John McElgunn, partner at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners says the impacts of the pandemic will be felt for a long time: “At RSHP we have discussed this at length.
We have been strong advocates of ‘flexibility’ in design for many years and always strive to create buildings that not only fulfil the brief but also provide enough flexibility for future occupiers. We often refer to the mantra ‘Loose fit – Long life’.”
He is watching the move away from cities as people opt for cheaper, scenic and more spacious places to work from home. “The shift towards more flexible working will drive down the level of occupancy in buildings. However, with social distancing becoming more of a ‘norm’ in our lives the reduction in occupation will offer the opportunity to create more ‘quality space’ for each individual.
“One of our projects, the Hammersmith & Fulham Civic Campus, is built around high-quality public space. The civic campus will provide the types of space people require outside their homes and apartments. I believe this will also have a major impact on the way we think about infrastructure.”
Fast broadband is now far more important than fast trains. As far as the workplace goes, he says that “The office will adapt and evolve. I believe more technology and more ‘Apps’ specific to the workplace and surrounding environment will help the nomadic worker identify the sort of places where they may wish to work, showing preferences for vibrant and dynamic, or quiet and contemplative spaces and live information on levels of occupancy. We are currently working on an office fit-out in RSHP’s The Leadenhall Building and the emphasis is on creating more quality space for fewer staff.”