The way economic progress is defined in today’s world is of course argumentative. With short-sighted planning and development schemes, the objective of economic progress has become so consumed by selfish profitability and short-term goals that the larger picture is rarely discussed. If the pandemic amidst which we are right now, isn’t nature’s backlash for all of man’s self-serving ways, then what is? 

All it took was a puny virus to put all of our plans in soup and bring the entire world into a severe lockdown, and a harsh reality check. It is to be noted that our planet is in no way dependent on human beings to sustain itself, it is but the other way round. Amongst the list of environmental hazards carried out by us, the building industry and the travel industry are serious contributors to this catastrophe of environmental exploitation. The pandemic in question is certainly not a direct result of architectural tourism or urbanization, but has given us a new perspective and is a pressing reminder to include“going green” in architectural practices and tourism. 

Future of tourism architecture
ILLUSTRATED BY THE AUTHOR- Sowmya Putran

Tomorrow’s architectural tourists will start addressing the likelihood of unprecedented events, calamities, pandemics, lockdowns, and disasters. Every tourist destination, if designed to manage future calamities through ecologically-minded techniques, can help in giving to rather than extracting from nature. Just the fact that we have reached a time when future architecture is post-pandemic architecture is in itself a wakeup call. So what will the future of architectural tourism be like? Will it be a complete revamp of architectural tourist destinations? Or will it be some new travel revolution altogether?

Although social distancing might be a solution for some time, if made a way of life, it would be hugely contradictory to the very aim of tourism. So, it might not be that easy to predict what the future of tourism is going to be like. More flexible approaches of design wherein spaces can be quickly restructured into alternative spaces, such as those needed in times of a calamity, may become essential. This might be possible in the construction of large tourist attractions such as malls, parks, and monuments. The availability of large convertible tourist destinations into hospitals, quarantine facilities, vegetable and fruit markets, medical stores, and testing centers can aid significantly in lowering the need for constructing new facilities and help cut down on the expenditure involved in it.

Systematic strategies and careful study of population densities are other important steps to be adhered to. Advanced population analysis methods need to be developed as well. Creating self-reliance in villages and towns can help in lessening the tourist burden on the cities. Eco-retreats that source supplies from nearby farms can help empower the local farmers along with minimizing the overall transportation cost involved. Conscious design of architectural destinations, with spacious open areas, ample air circulation, sufficient natural light, and ventilation can be a paramount step towards tourist wellbeing when the pandemic-scare is around. Since diseases spread easily in dim and fuggy spaces, well-ventilated interiors with just the right amount of air and sunlight can bring a healthy and refreshing visitor experience. Avoiding dingy corners, ensuring ample cross-ventilation, growing indoor plants, and building a system to source local material can be a paramount step towards restoring tourism in the post-corona-era. 

The more we caress nature in tourism, the more it will caress us. Hopefully, a time will come when the greatest luxuries of travel would become sustainability centric and focused on providing to the preservation of the environment. All in all a new construction standard must emerge post the pandemic which ensures that all spaces are sustainable, healthy, and freshening! The constructive contribution of architecture in such times can help arrest a lot of damaging after-effects that a pandemic brings to the future of architectural tourism. Just the fact that buildings in the first place can be designed in a manner that they are not only environmentally responsible but come as an aid in times of calamity can be a huge boost to the country’s economy and an intelligent way to compensate for the loses borne by the global travel industry in times like this. 

Public transport architecture such as that of railway stations and airports need to be redesigned from a health and hygiene point of view. Raising environmental awareness is the first step towards developing a post-pandemic architectural tour. Mindful tourism which caters to today’s needs, at the same time, keeps in mind its long-term impact on the environment must be encouraged. The development of such sensitive architectural practices can help put together a new way of co-existence through architectural tourism. There is no other way for us to save the travel industry. It is time architecture comes to the forefront of this battle for responsible architectural travel and paves the way towards constructive futuristic tourism strategies.

 

Author

Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.

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