Over the past ten years, there have been a lot of changes that have happened in our world, whether that be through increasing technological advancements or due to a worldwide pandemic that has caused many to question their day-to-day living like never before. These adjustments have helped shape our world into what it has become, but these adjustments have greatly affected the world of architecture and how firms and individuals need to design. Architecture is a growing and adapting job that needs to have the ability to easily morph into the needs of the world today, and these modifications to technology and society have helped architects be better prepared for the changes to come.
Since the introduction of 3-D modelling, clients have seen a more accurate representation of their interior and exterior spaces. With the 3-D realistic renders, there were still holes that pictures alone could not fulfil – what did the rooms feel like from a human scale? Now with the addition of virtual reality into 3-D modelling, clients can walk around their building to get a real feel of what the height of their atrium is like, or how good the visibility is from the front door to the receptionist at the front desk, or how tight hallways feel.
These advancements have drastically helped improve the layout of medical offices and hospitals. Various firms that focus on medical buildings are teaming up with nurses that will be working in the buildings once construction is completed to ensure that the nurses’ station has visibility of every hospital room in their wing, that the distance from the bed to the medical supply room and the medication room is a short enough distance to ensure the safety of life, and overall nurse and doctor distances to various rooms and supplies that are needed to keep order within the hospital.
A New York-based firm has used virtual reality to help clients visualise space and data in three dimensions. In its VR displays, for example, it employs various coloured blocks to depict the spaces of their prospective Shanghai Planetarium that will receive the most light, with redder blocks indicating more light exposure. An architecture firm based in Portland, USA has a VR specialist who pushed for the continued growth and use of VR because while in VR, design principals provide feedback on projects, enabling employees to make improvements to models in real-time. These changes frequently include changes to lighting and ceiling heights, which are best experienced in VR. Daniel Cashen, a senior designer at SOM, has been utilizing VR software since early 2015. He claims that the intuitive nature of VR allows architects to receive feedback more quickly. “You can get to the point very quickly. It either sells or kills the project right away.”
Covid – Restaurant
Covid-19 has impacted a lot of industries and people since its development in early 2020, and architecture was not alone in the changes that Covid caused. One of these changes was the design of restaurants, specifically in larger cities. New York City for instance pretty much overnight went from having the ability to house visitors inside to barely having enough space for solely their employees. This change was detrimental to restaurant owners because now not only was their number of customers down due to COVID but now it was almost impossible for anyone to eat at their restaurant anymore.
So the solution that New York City restaurant owners came up with was going onto the streets. They technically already owned that public space in front of their restaurant and with little to almost no vehicular and foot traffic happening during the time, owners were able to take full advantage of the public realm both on the sidewalk and a little bit into the streets. This allowed customers to have the safety of being outdoors and allowed owners to increase the number of people they could serve by including space that was not normally used. New York City Department of Transportation then needed to add new laws to ensure that once everything in the city opened back up that both patrons on the road and customers of the restaurants would all be safe. Even since the city has fully reopened, many restaurant owners have decided to keep this outdoor eating element as it has now become a staple for their income and is a nice addition when the weather allows.
This outdoor seating element in restaurants is not a necessarily new concept by any means, but it has had a resurgence due to people everywhere wanting to be more accommodating to the changes the society needing more open-air spaces to ensure the safety of those they will be serving. This has led many new restaurant owners that are constructing their new buildings to ask architects to already account for an outdoor area or even have the ability to open large portions of their otherwise closed-in building to the outdoors. This would be achieved through large windowed garage doors that roll up at the ceiling allowing the outdoor to be mixed with the indoor.
Covid – Number of Occupants
Another change that has occurred in architecture due to COVID-19, is that the occupancy of the building has shrunk. Originally when calculating the occupancy of a building, or how many people the interior of a space can hold, it was done by basically squeezing as many people as possible into the space. Since COVID, calculating the number of occupants, it cannot be done solely based on the person, but now must include a six-foot or less circle around each person which is deemed as the personal space calculation.
This change has caused many clients to worry about how they will make the Architects are starting to have to get creative on how they will accommodate the same number of people, either by having to add more floors onto the building or creating a larger building footprint to ensure that their clients will receive the same number of people in their building as before.
This has become increasingly tricky in the transportation realm of architecture because those tend to be the most densely packed areas for people to gather, whether that be waiting at a bus stop, trying to board a cruise ship, or waiting in a terminal for the plane. These spaces need to be able to accommodate the same number of people because the capacity of the plane, boat, or bus has remained the same, but now the interior spaces cannot accommodate those same numbers. Architecture firms are having to adapt their spaces to increase their sizes, which is leading clients to have to spend more money due to more resources and materials being needed for the same quality of space.
The world is forever changing and adapting to the needs and events that happen all around and every day, and architecture is no different. Architecture is always advancing towards new technology that will help make the work easier to handle and better equip the client to understand what the final product building will look like before construction even begins. Architecture is also always changing to improve peoples living and the atmosphere where they work and play. The pandemic helped show that architecture can morph to fit into what people of that day need from it, whether that be protection from the outside or an improved way to protect people inside. The last ten years have changed a lot, and there are already new advancements and changes being made today to better the next ten years to come.
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