- by Jayant Vaitha, Director, Design Services, Colliers International India and Aabhas K Maldahiyar, Senior Associate Architect, Colliers International India
Design has always been the response to a challenge that time always thrusts upon us. Best designs were always reactions to some scenario that most in the world saw as a problem, while designers saw these challenges as opportunities and gifted world with some unique crafts of the time. History is always read around Designs, of which architectural one finds a special mention. Architecture, in particular is more like wine, which by smell would tell you when and where it belonged to. Right now we have been hit by a catastrophe. The one that originated somewhere but today has engulfed whole world. We have spent quarter of the year almost locking horns with Covid-19, while only seven months are due for twenty first year of twenty first century to begin. The architects, urban designers and allied professionals have a big task ahead of them to take a relook at how the design would operate in coming days. The solutions will be quite radical in nature because of an upcoming paradigm shift but it will be required to be penetrated within industries seamlessly. We will have to think about the solutions on near-term as well as futuristic aspect. The former would need immediate implementation while the latter would have some time.
This seeks immediate action and would primarily be about localised calls. With Social-Distancing being a must, we should look for partitions amid the workstations. The idea of open-office would not remain the way it flutters today. There would be a strong separation between layouts catering to certain amount of people.
As we prepare to enter a probable era of Pandemics, HVACs will have an important role to play and hence now designers would look for solutions to get in smaller air-circulation zones in order to keep appropriate check on the air-quality. Though there is no evidence of Covid-19 being airborne, we need to ensure that air does not become a medium that carries the virus. Regular air-quality check will become crucial for all types of occupancies, ranging from small houses to large scale industries.
With the Pandemic falling upon us, Designers really need to pull up their socks and get the things moving fast. The futuristic solutions would need efficient collaboration among various design professionals. We need to ensure that spaces operate with minimum contacts with the places around. Which means that we will require a lot of Intelligent Systems in place. The doors, windows and appliances need to be automated based on sensory methodologies. We will have to see if the elevators too get functional based on voice commands or movement sensory systems.
Often the designers have used protrusion as an element of design however now we may need to avoid them in order to avoid any unnecessary physical contact with surfaces around. The materials and makes of interior spaces and furniture will require to be easily washable and routine sensitisation should not be a pain. The material palate will now be also based on parameters like “anti-contagious organism resistance”, etc. Office spaces will need very dedicated healthcare facilities which could not only run periodic check-ups but also help in ensuring the necessary hygiene in and around.
So far, we have known about “public” and “private-space” in office designs, but now we have the challenge to craft the “Third Space”. What is the “Third-Space”? These spaces would be one which will have a threshold from unwanted appearances so randomly and will also ensure that it completely contained from any possibility of any microbial attacks. This idea will seek medical professionals and designers collaborating to ensure the proto-type designs. We will also need Quarantine Zones in close proximity to every activated zones; residential, commercial or industrial.
There has been a very interesting learning from the lockdowns which we are facing right now. Every industry has learnt about efficient ways of working from remote locations. This would let the experts analyse that how efficiently without getting everyone under one roof, work can go on without any obstacles. It will give a chance to reduce energy loads in multiple ways. We will have quite lesser amount of vehicles operating around, MEP load on buildings would be lesser and so on. If that comes into play, we would next be requiring good, efficient co-working spaces scattered around with tech-savvy facilities. Anyone should be able to avail these facilities from any zone or nearest locations. We also got a learning from this Pandemic that enough facilities for Kids need to be created. The places should not only be highly sanitised and secured but very engaging too. This would come with challenges of its own.
A lot of planning and designing work would go around with respect to Housing infrastructure wherein we will need to shape Home-Office with best facilities. For the Gated Communities we will need to plan good co-working zones. Doctors and Medical Facilities will be required too based on certain population count statistics. The delivery zones of merchandise, food, etc. will be needed to be designed in a way that it provides enough space for social distancing.
Of all the radical ideas which need to come in, decentralisation of offices would be of crucial. We will have multiple smaller offices fragmented in various zones. The occupancy load would reduce drastically because of social-distancing provisions and the staircase requirements would be more radical in nature too.
As far as Hospitality sector is concerned, it will have to implement extreme hygiene standards and material palate would have to adhere to all the requirements as mentioned for Offices. The Retail sector will work on a model of ensuring lesser occupancy at any given time with all the other anti-contagious disease measures.
The innovations which would be prevalent:
- Rating System for “Anti-Pandemic”
- Medical Related security Alarms
- Code for designing “Anti-Pandemic Spaces”
Like the green building rating system, buildings would be rated based on their shielding facilities to Pandemic. It would not only ensure people of the safety against Pandemic but like how Green Building Ratings have today become a medal for any development, it too will become a USP. The competition of betterment is always a good step to attain healthier living.
There would be a need for medical related security alarm system wherein we would be notified if some threat is around. It will help the organizations control the grave scenario with ease.
And last of all if we have “Code for designing anti-pandemic spaces” drafted by a panel of eminent professionals from various related fields, designing a safe and healthy space will become an enjoyable challenge. Perhaps it could be cheat-book of the big challenge.