Metropolises on the up: 7 design-savvy cities to watch in 2018

Published 10th January 2018
Credit: Courtesy Balint Földesi
Metropolises on the up: 7 design-savvy cities to watch in 2018
Written by Emily Wright, The Spaces
This article was originally published by The Spaces, a digital publication exploring new ways to live and work.
Keeping track of global trends in 2017 was no mean feat. From economics to elections and from politics to property, the overarching specter of uncertainty made for an erratic 12 months. And 2018 doesn't look much clearer or calmer.
That makes it all the more important to identify the right markets when investing in property. For many it will be a case of the safer the better. Even those taking more of a risk will likely be erring on the side of calculated caution. With that in mind, here are seven of the cities you should be eyeing in 2018.

Toronto, Canada: The tech star of the north

Courtesy Christine Wagner
Why? When Google's parent company Alphabet announced in October that its urban innovation unit Sidewalk Labs will develop a 12-acre site in the city into a new, high-tech district "from the internet up" using data and sensors, Toronto became one of the most talked about cities in the world overnight and will arguably be the one to watch in 2018.
Best for: Hip-hop, basketball and celebrity house sales; Meghan Markle's former Toronto home listed for $1.3 million last month.
New to the cultural scene: The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveiled its restored Weston Entrance on Queen's Park last month, signaling the end of a refurbishment project by Hariri Pontarini Architects to restore the institution's Italianate Neo-Romanesque architecture.

Muscat, Oman: The Middle Eastern metropolis

Courtesy Brian Hart
Why? A safe haven in an otherwise volatile region, Oman hasn't fallen into the trap of brash over beauty like many of its Emirati cousins. Almost half of the country's population live in modern apartments in the capital city of Muscat where a new airport will eventually have capacity for 48 million passengers a year creating a likely, and comparatively safe, gateway to the east.
Best for: Waterside living, modern religious architecture, desert glamping and seafood.
New to the cultural scene: The second annual UNESCO conference on tourism and culture took place in the city in December.

Dundee, Scotland: The cultural comeback kid

A design for the future V&A Museum of Design Dundee
A design for the future V&A Museum of Design Dundee Credit: Courtesy V&A Dundee
Why? It was once the UK capital of cash register production, but the decline of traditional industry and loss of jobs in the 1980s saw Dundee adopt a plan to reinvent itself as a cultural center. A massive, £1 billion ($1.4 million) regeneration masterplan kicked off in 2001 and the resulting transformation of the city has started to take hold, with the Dundee Waterfront scheme set to hit crucial landmarks in 2018.
Best for: Ambitious renovations and build-to-rent developments
New to the cultural scene: It may have had its 2023 European Capital of Culture bid scuppered by Brexit but the city's under-construction, £80-million ($108 million) V&A Museum of Design Dundee will open its doors within the next 12 months, placing it firmly on the international art map.

Paris: The French fancy

The Station F startup campus in Paris
The Station F startup campus in Paris Credit: Courtesy Patrick Tourneboeuf
Why? Paris is easily dismissed as an existing powerhouse rather than 'one to watch', but 2018 will be significant for the French capital. The impact of the first full year with President Emmanuel Macron at the helm and resulting policy fueling fresh commitment to flexible business leases, tech and innovation could see Paris come into its own. Brexit-stricken London beware.
Best for: Young businesses, thanks to the opening of Station F -- the world's biggest startup hub -- inside an old 1920s freight station in the 13th arrondissement.
New to the cultural scene: The Musée Yves Saint Laurent opened in the city in autumn, taking over the fashion designer's former atelier in the 16th arrondissement. Luxury magnate Francois Pinault is also converting the Bourse de Commerce into a center for his art collection, with the help of architect Tadao Ando.

Tokyo, Japan: Going for gold

Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
Why? With the Summer Olympics just over two years away, the city is gearing up to host the world. The £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) stadium designed by Kengo Kuma is only the start of it as 2018 will see swathes of new residential development including Grand Le Jade Shibuya Tomigaya and Sunwood Aoyama spring up in and around the city in advance of the games.
Best for: Tiny homes, AI light installations, psychedelic greenhouses.
New to the cultural scene: Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama opened her own lantern-themed museum this autumn

Tbilisi, Georgia: The Hollywood, hipster hotspot

Courtesy Scoundrelgeo
Why? Something has happened in Georgia's capital over the last 18 months, earning it the title of the "Lisbon of 2018." An almost overnight must-see destination, the city increasingly becoming one of the world's most coveted hubs for fashion, arts and creativity has a newly elected city mayor -- former footballer Kakha Kaladze -- and will have a budget of $334 million next year to focus on transport and infrastructure.
Best for: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, techno music, wine.
New to the cultural scene: "Twin Peaks" and "Mulholland Drive" director and producer David Lynch visited Tbilisi in November for talks around opening a cinema institute in the city.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: The Mexican marvel

Courtesy Jiuguang Wang
Why? It was voted the best city in the world by travelers in 2017, outranking the likes of Cape Town and Florence, so the time to cash in on this not-so-hidden gem is now. Once dismissed as an (albeit pretty) retirement location, San Miguel de Allende now has a number of festivals and some of the best food south of the border, earning this spot just north-west of Mexico City its bone fide "one to watch" status.
Best for: Color, from the houses lining the cobbled streets to the flowers in the public parks. That and churros.
New to the cultural scene: The World Happiness Fest (yes, that's a thing) will be held here in March 2018 just ahead of the United Nations World Happiness Day on 20 March.
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