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Pandemic offers global impetus for sustainable construction

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Photo by Juhasz Imre from Pexels

How will the Covid-19 pandemic affect the built environment? Will we have to rethink concepts such as urban densification – or will we simply return to “business as usual” once the crisis abates? Experts from the network of the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction from around the globe share their views.

The construction industry seems to be comparatively unscathed by the pandemic – at least at first glance. Work has continued on many building sites. But what about the long-term situation at the global level? Should urban densification in this new age of interpersonal spacing still be advocated? Do architects, planners, engineers, and urban designers need to rethink certain precepts or even embrace a paradigm shift? Will large educational facilities and office buildings become obsolete because physical presence will no longer be necessary due to widespread adoption of home offices and distance learning?

 

The simple answer is: We don’t know, at least not yet. Perhaps the human ability to forget is so powerful that we will eventually revert to the status quo ante. Conversely, the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to profound changes in society, requiring responses from every facet of the construction industry. Monitoring such developments and anticipating future trends has been a core activity of the LafargeHolcim Foundation since it was created in 2003. Over the years, the Foundation has established a global network of experts who count among the world’s thought leaders in their fields. Together with the members of the Board of the Foundation, they are monitoring developments in the fields of architecture and construction arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The pandemic has highlighted the problems and challenges of modern cities and their inhabitants, says the young Brazilian architect Eduardo Pizarro: “How do we rebuild the sense of commonness in cities that are already fragmented and segregated?” His Spanish colleague Fernando González Piris adds: “The pandemic is a wake-up call for architects to reconsider the way that built space is constituted.” The Argentinian architect Juan Cruz Serafini is convinced of the role his profession will have in contributing to the “new normal”. “Architects and designers have unique skills in critical thinking and the ability to imagine new futures,” he says.

 

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