Search
  • Anchal Srivastava

What is the effect of COVID pandemic on architects and interior designers?


Anchal Srivastava, Naveen Kumar, Meghna Singh, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

The COVID induced chaos did not come with a warning, it arrived and spread. It is effectively reminding people to care for the world and the ecosystem. It caused the highest catastrophic failure to human activities in a generation.


Its full blown impact can be seen in the architecture and design industry as well. Many architects and designers have refocused and reassessed their approaches. It includes designing, vision and development. Read any thesis completed between 2019 and 2021. Several students finished their thesis centered around or about the pandemic. And if not, they have at least mentioned the crisis.

Anchal Srivastava, Naveen Kumar, Meghna Singh, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Students have become accustomed to online classes. For specialists, working from home is a workable alternative. Designers and engineers are becoming increasingly reliant on digital collaboration technologies such as building-information modelling (BIM). It aids in a more systematic management of projects. Meanwhile, construction management apps such as CoConstruct, Raken, etc. are being used to handle site inspection, management, as well as project coordination. At the university level, there is a strong push towards online and interdisciplinary education that combines design thinking, along with coding, business, and project management abilities.


As a result, reliance on personal digital assets has increased considerably. Original content has become a differentiating factor for designers and brands. Due to this, there has been a noticeable spike in investments in the domains of photography and videography. Both the arts capture the essence of a building's lifestyle or a product's design value. These images and videos help in building diverse content. And from a critical point of view, this content helps in reflecting the identity and ethos of the businesses. Simultaneously, the content also helps in communicating design principles to clients in a rational way. As a result, audio-visual assets have emerged as the most significant resource for designers to add to their portfolios.


Before COVID, all architects and designers relied on physical forms of communication and networking. But in the post-COVID era, business conversions will happen increasingly through online modes.

Anchal Srivastava, Naveen Kumar, Meghna Singh, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

The looming uncertainty surrounding the crisis is forcing the companies to bring innovative ideas to the table. The focus is to balance the digital and physical presence of the industry. As the world is trying to adapt to the current situation, the term ‘normal’ has taken a new meaning. As a result, we are forced to reevaluate the 'old normal.' While simultaneously reviewing our lives that were built and organised around old spaces.


Remember Anna, the architect from our last article? Well, she was working with an interior decorator, Advika. After the COVID spread and several lockdowns last year, in the middle of the project – both of them were asked to rewrite the project brief. Since the pandemic, open spaces and fresh air have become the aspects that appear to be preferred by customers. Architects are the most adaptable creatures on the planet. For them, designing environments with a new paradigm is a natural talent. Within a few days, several social spaces were developed by the team. And they did it successfully by maintaining the social distancing standards.

Anchal Srivastava, Naveen Kumar, Meghna Singh, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Along with a focus on human-centered design, there has been a strong emphasis on human-centered business processes. After the state announced complete lockdown, there has been a reverse migration of construction workers from city dwellings to their homes back in the villages. Since then, firms have grown more responsive towards solving employee issues. As a result, the industry of architectural design is aspiring to make work practices more inclusive.


During their project, Anna and Advika faced several points of contention. One was the lack of attention to detail. Anna prioritised the structure, walls, ventilation, natural lighting, etc. In comparison, Advika was more concerned with the details between the fire pipes and the walls. Designers prefer working as per their own resource vacancy and schedule. The importance of the project deadline is something that both parties overlooked. Being more receptive to external influence on workflow and deliverables is something architects do not like. But COVID is forcing them to be more flexible in their response to contingencies.

At the same time, it is exhausting for the firms to cater to customer's constantly shifting briefs. Due to this, firms face challenges in maintaining creative control over their designs and new materials procurement to incorporate the changes. And when there is a change of plan, it leads to imposing budget constraints and delays in project delivery. As a result, several companies have lost their projects.


Communication and collaboration between designers, consultants, and clients is transforming. Technological solutions to connect and collaborate are taking precedence.

Architects and interior designers who just joined the industry or began their startup ventures have been hit hard by this crisis. They have learned a hard lesson to create revenue models which are self-sufficient, scalable, and resilient. In any industry, fear is defined by the economic downturn, recession, and bankruptcy. To mitigate the risks, professionals are taking an economically conscious approach. To do so, many of them are preparing their balance sheets for a recession by cutting down on redundancies.

Anchal Srivastava, Naveen Kumar, Meghna Singh, COVID, COVID19, pandemic, lockdown, labour, labourer, migrant, unskilled, skilled, contractor, subcontractor, OEM, manufacturer, material, logistics, homebuyer, homeowner, Architecture, Engineering, Construction, AEC, Stakeholder, Stakeholders, Analysis, Research, R&D, Primary Survey, Secondary Research, Development, Forecast, Snapshot, KPMG, Deloitte, EY, pwc, McKinsey, Government of India, GDP, Economic Survey of India, Cushman & Wakefield, CW, JLL, Anarock, CBRE, Real Estate Agency, Agent, Zeyka, Zeyka India

The idea of economic disruptions takes us to the most sensitive point- pricing. For all designers, pricing a service may just be a nightmare. Valuation is determined by factors other than the industry standards. However, it is also influenced by its perceived worth. This is possibly the most fundamental issue that design firms are dealing with. How do architects and interior designers communicate and price these newfound values in their renewed service models to their clients?


In the past, we have noticed that transformation, turmoil, and civil unrest has resulted in some of the most innovative ideas. There is no longer room for lazy and lifeless projects. This may persuade clients to opt for robust design techniques and pay appropriately. Whether or how this trend unfolds, the market will reveal in the future. However, the COVID pandemic has become the most critical event for the entire industry to redefine itself, probably in over a century.


'Ideas Report' conducted a study in 2020. It reveals that 61.6 per cent of teams in new jobs have had more creative ideas than before. Furthermore, bold designers have the highest level of innovation. The study also confirmed more confidence in their ideas. This makes one wonder, does creativity thrive outside of the comfort zone? Or is it merely a coping technique when things get tough? These are some intriguing observations that probably all stakeholders can reflect upon.



* * *



About the Writer

Anchal Srivastava is an architect, urban planner, writer, researcher and scholar. She is a certified GIS specialist from IIRS, ISRO, Dehradun. She is a graduate of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU), Uttar Pradesh. She has experience working at the Town and Country Planning Organisation Delhi, Jabalpur Smart City Limited, Suresh Goel & Associates (SGA), APS Green Architects & Associates, and as the head architect at SSAP and Shantiniketan Buildtech Pvt. Ltd.


About the Editor

Naveen Kumar is a public policy and regulatory governance professional. He is a graduate of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Hyderabad. He has experience working at the Gitika Trust, Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) Hyderabad, Krishi Vigyan Kendra - MYRADA, AID India Eureka, Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd. (LTI) and Eco Foundation for Research and Training (EFFORT).


About the Illustrator

Meghna Singh is an architect, urban sketcher and design enthusiast. She is a graduate of the School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. She has won numerous national and international architecture design competitions, namely, NASA Mohammad Shaheer Landscape Trophy 2018, Heal+ Regenerative Housing for Kerala 2019, and the World Architecture Festival Student Charrette, Amsterdam 2019. She has experience working at Archohm Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

44 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All