The nature of the now prolonged Covid19 pandemic has forced every industry to rethink on the ways business is conducted in their sector. The world of building designs and the dynamics around it is also slated to change in ways more than we can imagine. Two of the leading Architects in the country – Sonali Bhagwati and Sanjay Kataria discuss the way things could change in the world of design*.
I feel that digital interface like webinars improve work efficiencies. Like in the case of other professionals, a significant portion of an Architects’ time is consumed by non-productive work, including running between meetings. Technology will help reduce non-productive tasks. On the takeaways, I feel there are both short-term and long-term ones from a crisis like this. The short-term takeaways include safety and security protocols. The long-term takeaways include work from home, remote meetings, etc. Corporate organisations would need to redefine their strategies with respect to their overall working. All these have implications on the way buildings or offices are designed and ultimately used. We could see the emergence of leaner/smaller organisations, where work is outsourced and freelancers play the role that usually the employees played in the pre-Covid19 world. Small size of organisations would bring agility (resulting in faster adaptability to changes) and efficiency to the businesses. Within organisations, emphasis on critical thinking and analysis would assume greater importance.
Demand for luxury spaces could come down by 10-15%. Generally, we have been hearing of ‘Offices like home’ concept in the pre-Covid19 times. Now this could reverse, where you design and create office/working spaces in homes to arrive at ‘Homes like office’ concept. What I also think could come about is the 24×7 pay and play work spaces in cities all across India. This could be something like a small office area in your neighborhood that you simply go to and work from there.
Affordable housing would continue to grow and garner more attention in the built-up spaces. Housing for youngsters, especially those for who come from small towns to work in big cities, will be in greater demand. Similarly, student housing could be another demand centre.
On the retail design, we could see the Endless Isle concept gaining popularity. This combines the online and offline modes for making a sale. This could translate into smaller shops with no need to stock goods. Shops could be for sampling, kiosks to buy. So, I see the design requirements in buildings going through a series of changes.
In my opinion, if the government plays it’s cards well, lot of international business can be channelised to India. There’s a negative sentiment on China around the world. This could result in more investments coming to India and hence more development activities. Given the severity of the crises, the market could be tough for a year or two. Developers will have to move towards doing smaller projects and will have to make each sq.ft. count. On the design part, we as designers, will have to make each man-hour count and design accordingly.
For corporate interiors work, we would need to look at redesigning spaces with larger work-stations. We may need to look at, say a 6ft. distance rather than the standard 5ft. As the economy experiences a reduced level of business activity, affordable residential interiors would get more attention.
Health has been the subject of our discussions all this while. What I feel could get more attention of the industry in the times to come is the WELL Building Standards. These standards take into account factors like air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, materials, mind, community and innovation. My company is working for a client who is going in for these standards in his project. With health and well being at the centre of WELL Building Standards, these are going to gain more ground in the Indian market.
*Webinar – IIID Design Dialogues