The Class Conference 2019


November 6, 2019


Arena Berlin



The Future is Blended

Our annual flagship event, The Class Conference, is the biggest student housing conference in Europe. Throughout the day, student housing players, city leadership, and the higher education community come together to discuss the latest trends, celebrate achievements, exchange ideas, and broaden their networks. Together we shape the future of student living, working, and learning in Europe.


The past decade can be considered nothing less than a miraculous one in human innovation. More ideas and products have been realised than any decade before, with greater flows of people, goods, and services between cities, countries, and continents. In this new, global world order, life goals and work preferences are changing too. It is impossible to ignore the changing role of cities and the pivotal importance of universities and knowledge institutions. Urban living increasingly is characterized by transience and inclination to constant change. Human capital and talent attraction are the driving force behind urban advancement in a competitive order of global cities. The fast changes in modern society are turning our lives in a permanent stage of becoming, and increasingly blurring the environment around us. At The Class of 2020, we have been investigating the future of urban living, working and learning for a footloose generation of international talent. The recognition of the co-revolution being a natural progression for the student living sector inspires us to explore all the blends young people encounter in their living experience. While physical realities meet virtual spaces; the European market is witnessing both an institutionalization and a blurring of PBSA as asset class, embracing innovative lifestyle-specific and hospitality-driven living products. The urban campus is the ultimate mash-up of higher education and novel ways of working and living together. Digitalization is disrupting our perception and experience of space and creates learning ecosystems beyond proximity. We enjoyed exploring these topics together with you and 800 other thought leaders in real estate investment, development and operations, international higher education, and city leadership.

With almost 20 panel discussions throughout the day held on three stages simultaneously, The Class Conference 2019 clustered multiple approaches to all the above challenges and opportunities into seven key takeaways:

Community is key
Each residential community is unique in its needs, wants, and demands.
To emphasize this point, the industry needs to stop thinking of generational groups as homogenous with the same needs and wants – alternatively, effective housing solutions will consider the mindset of residents, no matter what age group they fall under.

Operators are putting people first when it comes to community building. They are understanding the importance of activating space and community by empowering residents within it to share their own unique interests and connect with each other.

Affordability is demanded across the urban living sector
Housing affordability is a major issue for global cities. On The Moment for Coliving is Now panel, affordability was highlighted as the main appeal for prospective residents. To combat the affordability challenge, developers can consider new construction techniques, such as prefabrication to save on building costs and speed up the building process.

Operators can rethink their approach to amenities and luxury offerings. Based on resident feedback in coliving spaces, affordability trumps amenities. Varied opt-in/out options can also include more affordable choices for residents.

The value of branding
In tomorrow’s generation of global citizens, experience will continue to be valued over ownership. In addition to visually pleasing environments, residents are making more conscious decisions about company ethos when selecting their accommodation. Companies that are transparent with their offerings are more attractive to potential residents.

The added value of branding for investors remains marginal while portfolios sit relatively small in the continental market; however, given the projections shared at the conference, we can expect branding to become increasingly important as portfolios grow.

Reform outdated policies
Planning is lagging market trends nearly everywhere. Reforming building regulations based on historic precedents will enable innovative design to be approved – smaller, well-designed spaces with communal areas will help to increase density. However, planning also needs to continue to measure and control the quality of living environments to ensure the quality and sustainability of housing meets future demands.

Innovation and technology are driving building efficiency

Technology is not an add-on anymore but a full cycle driving force: from design and conceptualisation to construction and maintenance. In order to maximise the value of space, we need to be flexible and adaptable with design and embrace sustainability as a necessity. Smart technology can help us collect data and make data-informed decisions and enhance human experiences.

Learning is evolving to adapt to changing market demands
Learning pathways and higher education are changing rapidly. In the global knowledge economy, people need to reinvent themselves more than once in their career. Flexible learning pathways and tech enabled online learning will provide greater access to the skills needed to do so. This will require us to keep an open mind about what is meant by ‘campus,’ while keeping an eye on the technological and design needs of learning and living spaces.

Collaboration to shape the future of urban living
The Class Conference 2019 on Blended Living brought together around 700 urban innovators, educators, designers, real estate developers, operators and government officials. With an estimated 25 billion euros of current and future investment in blended living typologies onsite, there is substantial opportunities to shape the real estate industry in a blended, collaborative and more flexible direction.


Andrea Mancini

Head of Residential Investment Properties


Andrew Smith

Head of Student Accommodation

Cushman & Wakefield

Anil Khera

Founder & CEO

Anke Kampschreur


Armon Bar-Tur


BaseCamp Student

Arnold Persoon

Managing Director, Europe

Bas Wilberts

Head of Residential & Hotel Investments

Benjamin Oeckl

Executive Director

Bobbi Hartshorne

Head of External Relations & Student Wellbeing


Brian Welsh

Managing Director & Head of Student

Round Hill Capital

Bruno Haid

CEO & Founder

Carlo Matta

Head of Europe

CA Ventures

Charlie Macgregor


The Social Hub

Christine McDannell

Founder & CEO

Claire Solon

Managing Director


Clare Thomas


Clayre Massey


Clément Leroy

Director Real Estate Development

Daniel Gorzawski

Managing Director, Head of Europe

Harrison Street

David Woodward


Davide Dattoli

Co-Founder & CEO

Talent Garden

Dr. David Lefevre

Director, Edtech Lab

Dr. Sonal Minocha

Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Stefan Brauckmann

Executive Director

Dr. Stefan Franzke


Berlin Partner

Emmanuel Javal


Oke Hauser

Creative Lead MINI LIVING

Felix Embacher

Berlin Manager

Fiona Stewart

Contract Director

Student Living by Sodexo

Flavia Curvelo Magdaniel

Postdoctoral Researcher

Florian Färber

Founder & CEO

Frank Uffen


The Class Foundation

Frédéric Verdevaine

Friso Garbers

Real Estate Acquisition Management

George Dyer


Cushman & Wakefield

Gian Luca Giovannucci


Gui Perdrix


Günther Schmidt

CEO & Founder

Harald Hübl

Investment Director

Value One

Eri Cuanalo

CEO - Europe


Jacob Chai

Senior Director International Real Estate

Jake Nunley

Head of Research

James Kingdom

Head of Alternatives Research


Jeannie Wong

VP, Real Estate Private Equity Portfolio Management

Jess Gallop

Director of People & Organisational Effectiveness

Student Roost

Jill Xiaozhou Ju

Investment Director

The Collective

Jo Winchester

Executive Director


Joe Persechino

Chief Operating Officer


Jorick Beijer

Co-Founder & Urbanist


Jorn Wisselink

Director of Operations

Jules Choukroun

Real Estate Director - Iberia

The Social Hub

Keith White


CRM Students

Kelsea Crawford

Co-Founder & CEO

Kevin Williamson

Investment Director

Kristen Zupancic

Innovation Catalyst

Leon Bobbe

Chairman of the Board

Lily Moodey

Programme Coordinator

Martina Bo

Liaison Officer Italy

Erasmus Student Network

Mindy Teo

Deputy Managing Director

Nathan Goddard


Student Roost

Neil Burton

Global Practice Lead


Paloma Lisboa

Director of Operations

King's College London

Patrick Cunningham

Business Development Director


Christian Rickerts

Permanent Secretary

Philip Hillman

Chair of Living Capital Markets


Pim Heurman


Prof. Dr. Phillipp Bouteiller


Rainer Nonnengässer


International Campus

Richard Spencer

Managing Director

Robin Cremers

Country Manager NL

Roger Hensman

Advisor, Student Housing

WP Carey

Ryan Manton

Programme Director

Samuel Vetrak

Founder & CEO


Achim MeyeraufderHeyde

Secretary General

Ségolène Desplanques

Investment Manager

Kley Group

Stefano Pagliani

Investment Associate


Stuart Osborn

Head of European Residential Investment Transactions

Knight Frank

Susan Tjarksen

Managing Director

Cushman & Wakefield

Thomas Lebinger

Head of the Accommodation Brokerage Department

Tom Donnachie

Transactions Director

Tom White



Ulrike Hagendorf

Senior Research Manager


Valérie Bensiek

Managing Director Germany


Viggo Stacey

Deputy Editor

The PIE News

Wybo Wijnbergen

MD, Northern Europe


Zachery Spire

Head of Research & Training



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The Class Conference 2022

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