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Rethinking Architecture In The Post Pandemic Era

9 Architects Rethink Architecture in the Post Pandemic Era
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The harrowing effect of Covid-19 has prompted a surge in upgraded thinking. As we retreat IN our homes, we’re asked to think big and OUT of the box to prepare for the new normal. As we are now learning the hard way, we are forced into transforming our thinking towards hope, not distress.

Our built environment will definitely be changing. New world problems exposed new world truths that we battled with new world bravado. As lifestyle and consumption habits have transformed overnight and governments have invested money in technology and communications, perhaps the challenges of overcoming the coronavirus pandemic might ultimately foster a more sustainable future for us and the next generation. We’re in for an upgrade. We’re lined up to access new shelters which will provide an improved collective quality of life.

While others are still haunted by images of empty cityscapes and shelters ravaged by disease, some see an equally radical vision of hope: We invited 9 architects to rethink architecture apres COVID-19 pandemic—read on for their thoughts.  

1. Ar. Rowland Agullana
Principal Architect and CEO, Cubesystem Builders Corporation 

“I think planners should realize by now the importance of urban farming. Town planning in the future should consider more community garden farming. Even condominium and mix use development planners and alike should promote usable green roofs as a part of urban farming as not only does this contribute to biophilic design but it also adds to the sustainability of a town. A set up of one barangay urban farming may not be that promising but imagine a network of inter barangay set ups. The smallest administrative division in the Philippines will be able to help sustain food supply to its subordinates especially in difficult times like this wherein logistics is one of the challenges we are facing in the center of this pandemic.”

Vertical Garden by Cusbesystems Builders Corporation 

2. Ar. Arnold Austria and Ar. Sonny Sunga 
Principal Architects, Jagnus Design Studio 

“From our experience, adaptive functioning spaces are the most resilient ones. The value of designing our built environment that is adaptable to the fast changing times is all the more highlighted in this period of the pandemic. Suddenly our homes have become our place of work, our gym and even our remote social space. Restaurants that used to seat 50 are now encouraged to do so with less for safety. Once lockdown is lifted, the open spaces in our offices will be turned into individual booths to minimize the risks of infection. The way we design our new spaces will definitely be altered, with more emphasis on easy to clean surfaces, efficient air ventilation and versatility. This pandemic will not last forever but it will take months or even years before confidence in our surroundings will get back to what it used to be. In these uncertain times, adaptability is key to survival.”

JSO Building by Jagnus Design Studio 

3. Ar. Ian Fulgar
Principal Architect, Fulgar Architects

“The issue about the pandemic is not really the proliferation but more about enduring the precautions. Our design mindset therefore for future pandemics should be about bunkering. We have to take into consideration how individuals and families may have to endure the next large-scale social and service deprivations with better design facilities for acquiring needs, stocking up food pile, basic delivery logistics, sanitation, entertainment, medical isolation, indoor gyms, to continuing economic productivity. Foyers or ante-rooms are perfect spaces to hold and disinfect any external contacts. Storage spaces may need to be increased with built-in UV light systems. To steady trade industries, office dens incorporated into living spaces would probably become a default feature in future unit layouts. A way to partition off a whole wing or sections of a place to avoid the spread of disease but accessible to a medical emergency and panic rooms incorporated with water supply, filtered ventilation, and radio transmitter or dependable internet may become quite valuable considerations. Facilities should also reconsider the way we sterilize water from cisterns or how we dispense contaminated waste back into the city. But most of all, hopefully, we bring sensibility back by respecting more of the recommended setbacks to allow adequate sunlight into each habitat and to aggressively revive open garden parks instead of investing more in air-conditioned gathering places.”

Bunkering For Next Pandemic by Fulgar Architects 

4. Ar. Louwie A. Gan
Principal Architect and Urban Planner, L.A. Gan Associates

“This pandemic allowed us to experience and confirm the weaknesses of how we collectively design cities and buildings. This is the time to rethink how we prioritize our design sensibility especially how our buildings and cities should reconnect with nature which seems to be taken for granted. To be resilient in this situation, we should prioritize the importance of basic needs, such as access to basic services and community centers as well as incorporating nature’s genius in between. We built communities bombarded by large commercial establishments, but we failed to realize that these structures may not be helpful in times of crisis. It is time for us to quite our cleverness and look deep into nature for patterns that we can incorporate in our design. If building occupants can grow their own food in their backyard, we are one step closer making our building design and cities resilient.” 

Mixed use, Mixed Income Community by L.A. Gan Associates 

5. Ar. Richard M. Garcia, FUAP, PALA, PIEP 

“RESIDENTIAL, consideration on creating Green Spaces for Urban Gardening from growing your own vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and other edible greens or even ornamental plants and flowers that can be used as part of the interior design of houses. For COMMERCIAL SPACES like malls, cinemas, supermarket, theaters and restaurants which will be hardly hit, occupancy rate will now be down to 1/3 of the capacity of its original intent.  Restaurants for example, should take into consideration facilities for take-out, drive thrus and deliveries.  We may also see the return of Drive in Cinemas for social distancing. Supermarkets and Malls may designate parking spaces for  pickup orders. For OFFICES, during the recent years, the trend has been Open Space Planning, but since we are practicing social distancing, office cubicles and partitions may also have a comeback. Work from Home will now be a common practice thus resulting to reduction in the size in office spaces, work stations can now be of multiple use or by shifts depending on staff schedules.” 

Ayala Malls Feliz by Visionarch 

Principal Architect /Planner
SNG Design Enterprise

“If spaces can be purposefully designed, they can help in the prevention, containment, and treatment of infectious disease; thus, saving lives. In the light of the current Covid-19 situation, it may also be reasonable to rethink that concerns about future viruses might encourage us architects to design with an eye toward flexibility and automation. The inability of most hospitals to accommodate huge numbers of sick people had alerted architects with the pressing need of repurposing public and private facilities: whether structures such as hotels, dormitories, carparks or open spaces such as gymnasiums and sports arenas, converting them into health care facilities to battle against the contagion of a modern disease. We must see the potential of designing with smaller modular spaces that can be sealed off, quickly torn down and disinfected; and be open to using antibacterial fabrics and finishes (combined with the use of masks, face shields, gloves and personal protective equipment), installing disinfectant foot baths at entrances (whether for private residentials or public commercial spaces) and touch-less technology to mitigate contagion such as automatic doors, hands-free light switches, remote temperature controls, and voice-activated elevators. Whatever lessons we learned from this pandemic, we will have to carry on with the new normals: a cleaner and more sanitized environment, an architecture whose primary consideration is safety and maximum preservation of lives and properties.” 

The Sanctuary at Heaven’s Garden by SNG Design Enterprises 

7. Ar. Miguel GuerreroFUAP, APEC Architect, ASEAN Architect 
Managing PartnerAsian Architects 

Rethinking Architecture in the Post Pandemic Era
The four threats to sustainability are :

(1) Eco-Threat (climate change)
(2) Bio-threat (virus)
(3) Terror-Threat (violence)
(4) Techno-threat (internet) 

Everything is connected, as Integral Ecology promotes.  This current pandemic has highlighted one of the four vulnerabilities of sustainability. Post pandemic architecture will highlight the following: 

1. Revisit the healthy aspect of green buildings – natural light, natural ventilation, healthy and easy to clean materials – to harness the healing power of nature. 

2. Revisit the traditional Pinoy culture – receiving visitors in the balcony or vestibule, leaving footwear outside – keeping the inner zone of the house protected.

3. Revisit sustainable living – food, water, pocket energy within our dwelling space – bringing back self-reliance.  The solutions are nothing new, nothing complicated – it’s all about working with nature to heal ourselves, heal the world.

The four threats to sustainability are  Eco-Threat (climate change), Bio-threat (virus)Terror-Threat (violence) and Techno-threat (internet) 

Newly renovated Casa Dona Emilia Inn located 
in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, by Asian Architects 

8. Ar. William Ti, Jr.
Principal Architect, WTA Design Studio  

“In the coming year or so, various agendas will be pushed to put up barriers and segregate us. Populist demands will feed xenophobic and protectionist inclinations. This is a world I reject and will not be a part of. If anything this crisis should teach us how to come together as a community and help each other. We must learn to build a safety net for the whole of society instead of watching over the interests of a select few.  My architecture is one that cares about the people. It does not work in a world that limits itself or separates us. We must find ways to live in a post-COVID world that can address our human needs for contact. We must find a way to build a world where we can still see our neighbors smile.”

Emergency Quarantine Faacilty by WTA Design Studio 

9. Ar. Ronnie YumangRegenerative ASEAN Architect,   Environmental Planner, UAP Secretary General
Principal Architect, Yumang Design Studio 

“Humans have become a geological force (dawning of the Anthropocene), so dominant, it propelled the planet’s ecosystem decline causal to infectious zoonotic diseases-more recently the novel coronavirus outbreak which may be just the beginning of mass pandemics – our ‘new world’. We cannot do the same architecture like we keep doing before. We need new solutions to new challenges: a paradigm that deeply enroots the relevance of ‘Oikos’. REGENERATIVE ARCHITECTURE, a whole systems thinking, is a new paradigm of ‘co-creative collaboration’ with other biota of the natural systems engaging the built environment into the fractal nature of the oikology. Beyond Sustainability, it replenishes what was consumed or damaged caused by humans or natural calamities and restore Earth’s abundance. We each exist as parts of greater unified wholes that are constantly evolving and growing. We are all CONNECTED and never should be separated.”

(Excerpt from ebook (CONNECTED: Understanding Regenerative Architecture) 

Maka Forest Villa, First Regenerative Community Project by Yumang Design Studio located in Alfonso, Cavite 

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