Like many industries, architecture as an industry has been affected in many ways due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has wreaked havoc and changed our lives for good or bad. When the lifestyle changes, our built and unbuilt environment also changes, thus affecting architecture – language and business. The crisis has not only changed the way of life of architects in unimaginable ways but has impacted their business and design ideologies too. However, one should see a crisis as an opportunity to grow by adapting to changes. Yes, there were a lot of negatives and getting used to newer ways of working, but, in the end, each one of us adapted to them to turn the negatives into positives. Like a coin, this pandemic also affected our lives both positively and negatively. Following are my views of how the COVID 19 has and is affecting the architecture business –
Adapting to Interface Switch
With the limitations imposed on architects owing to the restrictions due to the Coronavirus, architects world over adapted to an interface switch. In my opinion, this is one of the positive impacts that the architecture business adapted to, which was quite long overdue. Architects all around the globe started using the virtual interface of communication and work from home mode of working. This not only enables us to keep up with the desk tasks efficiently but also to communicate and network both locally and globally.
The interface switch from actual to virtual has opened a door to limitless possibilities in the field of architecture. Though the pandemic brought the construction sector to a standstill, the architects and designers got ample time to think and introspect their ideologies and design practices.
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Usage of the virtual interface has widened the scope for people willing to work from remote locations. Thus, not only did the pandemic widen the exposure for practices, but it has also helped in opening up the possibility for people willing to work remotely. Therefore, imparting opportunities and exposure to people across diverse conditions.
Adapting to Shifts in the Living Pattern
The pandemic has practically turned our world around. The lives and thereby the living pattern have changed for everyone across the globe. From adopting work from home mode of working to learning at home for students in limited means, the fundamental issues related to space allocation and usage cropped up. The pandemic highlighted our obsession with form and economy more than the function and users. The pandemic blurred the line between personal time and work time, therefore blurring the gap between home boundaries and office boundaries.
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These blurring lines and the shift in the living pattern would direct the architects and designers to adapt to the living patterns through their designs. Not only that, this leads us to question the modern building practices in contrast to the traditional building practices and space allocation.
Adapting to the updated living patterns through architectural intervention would not only be limited to residences but would be spread out across all types of functions and formats (open, semi-open and closed) of spaces.
Shifting from Single-use to Flexible Designs
Architecture practices with their design interventions should be able to allocate the requirement of spaces that are flexible to use rather than for single use. The pandemic has taught us the need for spaces that could be used in several ways in contrast to serving as a single-use space. For instance, a living room could be converted to an office space or a study area, depending on the number of members and other requirements in the house. Similarly, schools and colleges, having shifted their mode of teaching over virtual platforms, could serve as containment zones or healthcare institutions. But to be able to do that efficiently, the architects should foster design ideologies that could transform a space easily based on the requirement of the function or crisis at hand.
This is yet another opportunity for architecture businesses to develop designs and products that work on widening the scope of use of space.
One Door Closes, Another Opens! - Opportunities for Change
We very well know that any crisis closes a few doors while opening others. Such events in history have not only ended up in lifestyle changes but also led to innovations in all spheres, thus paving the path for a radical future. The pandemic has led to the redundancy of certain project types while highlighting the requirements for certain project types. Similarly, it has rendered certain design practices superfluous and paved a way forth for opportunities for change through innovation and design. Due to a shift in the lifestyle and working pattern, the need for spaces has acquired a refreshed meaning, thereby challenging the architectural fraternity to take on the challenge to adapt and survive.
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While many project sites came to a halt, the architecture businesses suffered economically. The halt not only did hamper the architecture firms but also affected the allied fields and businesses financially. A lot of architects suffered the blow of joblessness due to the lack of opportunities during the period. Due to the financial blows to the public in general, several projects were canceled or put on hold indefinitely. This led to a dearth of opportunities for many young practitioners, site workers, contractors and the list is endless.
Update and Upgrade
This was a perfect time for the industry stakeholders to update themselves with not only the innovations in the industry but also upgrade with the new way of working. Many architects enjoyed the process and deemed the method more productive. Architects engaged in knowledge gaining and sharing, development of ideas, adapting to virtual offices and virtual discussions. Every person tried to update themselves or tried something new during the time that they never got and never will get.
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The upside of the pandemic was that it gave ample time to the fraternity to introspect. Introspection is an unknown territory while we are engaged in a constant rat race and competition. The pandemic gave a lot of issues to think about and bring about a change. For instance, should the designers obsess with form or function, single-use spaces or flexible and adaptive spaces, the type of materials, techniques, design ideologies, etc. The introspection was not only done individually but across firms, academia, industry and other stakeholders. To help in the process, several talks and discussions were held over virtual portals. This not only led to healthy discussions of issues, solutions and the way forward but also led to opening opportunities and recognition for many architects.
Lack of Networking Opportunities
The business suffered as the social gatherings, conferences, exhibitions, festivals, etc. stopped due to the restrictions imposed in light of the pandemic. This hindered the networking with potential business leads, collaborators and other stakeholders.
Looking for networking and business growth ideas? Read, Top 10 Social Media Tips to Boost Your Architecture Business.
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Our fight with the Coronavirus is still on – personally and professionally. While a lot of avenues were brought to a standstill, architects all over the globe did not give up the pursuit to explore newer avenues. Architects are designers and innovators; therefore, they will always find a way to rejuvenate their businesses. The fight with the virus seems long, but at the end of the road, learnings and introspections are leading to growth – personally and professionally. The architecture businesses, however negatively affected, should take this phase as a step to move forward. Turning negatives to positives, learnings to earnings in order to shape and design our future spaces.
Stay safe! Stay Successful!
In case of any suggestions or experiences, please feel free to post them in the comments below.
Lastly, take a read to The Ultimate Guide for Architecture Students to Remain Focused on Online Study!
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