Architects of change

A picture of cities today – to visualize cities of tomorrow.
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A survey commissioned  by Chaos with Censuswide to gain insight into lived experiences of contemporary city dwellers

Chaos engaged with 4,024 people from different age ranges (from 16 through to 55 and over), household groups (from single occupants through to households of six and more) and gross incomes (from $19,500 or less through to $97,000 and above) across Germany, Italy, the UK and US.

The urban survey participants were questioned on factors that impact their daily lives. The responses showcase the current reality — with cities as places of rapid change that present challenges to the people who live in them.

Key findings


Lived city environments appear to be, in some important respects, hostile to city dwellers:

  • from the air that they breathe, with 38% citing air quality as a major issue and 29% seeing a need for improved in-home air filtration…

  • …to the streets that they walk in, with 42% citing traffic congestion and more than one in four citing overcrowding and overdevelopment…

  • …to the way they travel through cities, with 29% citing access to parking and one in four citing access to and cost of transportation…

  • …to the noise pollution they experience, with 29% citing noise as a problem and 30% asking for better soundproofing in their homes.


Climate change also has an impact on the city dwellers:

  • Well over half (57%) feel temperature extremes adversely affect their mental well-being.

  • One in five (21%) see weather extremes as a primary reason to move out of their current home.

  • Six in 10 (60%) would pay for solar panels to reduce their environmental impact

  • More than one in four (26%) see a rapidly changing climate as a driver for better storm and floodproofing.

Finances add to city-living pressures:

  • Affordability of housing sees more than six in 10 (63%) city dwellers experience a fall in quality of life. Close to half (47%) fear rising mortgages and rents will force them to move out of their current home. Rocketing energy prices increase worries for close to three-quarters (73%) of all city dwellers.

  • These factors can undermine city dwellers’ mental and physical well-being: One in four (25%) believe challenges to their city home adversely impact their mental well-being. More than one in five (23%) believe challenges to their city home adversely impact their physical well-being. 

These issues culminate to present unique challenges to city dwellers likely to be buying their first home and starting families. The 35-44 age group who are likely to be buying their first home and starting families — identified in this report as ‘metropolitan millennials’ — appear particularly vulnerable to factors that include housing costs, mental well-being and the impacts of temperature extremes.

Results from the Chaos survey present a picture of a moment in time — from 3 to 8 January 2024. It is a unique opportunity for architects and planners to better understand the people who call the city their homes — including the challenges they face as well as the actions that will help to ensure that cities remain vibrant, living communities.

In seeing the realities of cities today, we can better visualize the cities of tomorrow. 

Download the report


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