Beginning the second decade of the 21st century we anticipated it to be the year of new aspiration, goals, and achievements unaware of what awaited us. As the world gets hit by Noval COVID-19 driving us into the journey of a utopian world we might have just imagined or seen in any sci-fiction movies. Nevertheless, it turned true at this time, the world has stood in a standstill mode, with lockdown around the world, zero travel activities, dropped market routine and race towards survival, fighting the deadly virus has brought some surreal experiences for one and all to learn and act. This has an immense impact on the economy and the architectural industry significantly.
The economy of any city is directly affected by the infrastructure and architecture of a particular place. As we are hit by the pandemic, the response to it has made us aware of different city models and their effectiveness to fight a health crisis. This crisis has made every user of a space rethink the city models in terms of public health, social relations, and economic balance. Thus, resulted in professionals like architects to reevaluate their understanding of cityscapes and their positives and negatives, also highlighting the issues and impacts of the economy on architectural practices.
As architectural practices thrive on construction sites, groundworks and major collaborative activities, the implementation of lockdown has brought a relative shut down of construction sites and some projects put on hold for the time being. The unavailability of transport systems caused a delay in the supply of materials and machinery needed for construction works as well as the suspension on national and international import-export goods has resulted in an effective jolt in the global economy as well as damaged fewer areas of the industry and its progress.
With the health crisis effect playing its role on incomes and market growth it has been relatively gruelling for migrant workers to survive with nil income sources. These workers often shift their base from rural areas to growing urban cities in hope of basic necessity and income but present times have made them utmostly vulnerable. Last few months cities have seen dramatic movements of migrant workers returning to their hometowns, leaving the construction sites and cities untenanted.
Additionally, the client’s needs and demands have also been affected under the influence of the pandemic. It has provoked cost cuttings in current projects, downsizing in the amount of material usage, and reanalyzed the parameters of venturing into newer projects. The market uncertainty and client’s cautions thought process has put pressure on architectural firms to pitch in new projects and collaborations. It has, however, also brought the need to understand post-COVID-19’s construction and design measures that have now been mandatory for implementation.
Moreover, apart from the shutdown, lack of labour and supply market damage, another massive challenge is to find newer markets for imports as there has been restriction imposed on China. Business owners, clients as well as architects have to scout other market locations for products and furniture for which they majorly rely on Chinese imports and markets. This implementation of restriction has highlighted the need to improve local markets by promoting local craftsmen and demanded to be self-reliant that could boost the local economy.
As we reel through and out of the lockdown it aroused the desire to modify our working patterns. It encouraged businesses and offices to turn towards digital technology with working from home as the new effective concept to go on with the work process. The effect has also hindered income and employability as many firms went with pay cuts, furlough schemes, and even reduction in staff. Digital platforms have been a common platform for interactions and communications. Small firms have been extremely vulnerable to the harshness of the pandemic along with the struggle to survive through it and the need to produce impactful designs as markets open up.
Architectural practices have come under the centre of the necessity to figure out design strategies concentrating on public health, social change, economic and technological developments. These events have brought to light the impact of architecture practices and the effectiveness of their built model in such a crisis. Design strategies implementing substantial emphasis on health and hygiene, social distancing, and revised design norms will be obligatory for architecture practices.
Furthermore, the surge in population has resulted in land prices skyrocketing but also the demand for affordable housing has been on the rise. To cater to this challenge it will be an architect’s duty to design city models in their fullest usable capacity by creating vital, functional, and effective spaces and using up the entire area efficiently. Thus, there will be refinements in the approach towards city models and business models post lockdown.
There has been a strong urge for temporary structures, modifications in health care buildings, and pressure for spontaneous response. It has attracted the attention to create projects that stand solid in these times with faster construction technology with minimal dependence ratio on the labour force. These projects are and will be on the rise for the times to come.
By far, the experience of the pandemic has brought to light out abilities and inabilities and also our preparedness to fight such a state of emergency. It has shrunken our growth which will take time for us to recover from but also has highlighted our new goals and priorities for the future.