• Andrew J Bannister

Life goes on...

The current pandemic has caused grief and financial crisis around the world and where the way we lived before may never be the same again.


People will still need to live in homes and as such, they will still want to make those homes as nice as possible, and with the amount of accomodation that they need. And so despite the fact that we as architects, designers, manufacturers and contractors, will need to amend our ways of doing business, life will go on and we need to adapt to it now.


Since the start of this pandemic, I have been investigating ways to benefit our present and future clients and what values we can offer to them, so that they will engage with us and do business... It is a tricky one in some ways, because why would anyone at this time think of ripping their homes apart for a remodel ? And if you are thinking of building a new home, then surely you will want assurances that the design and engineering will take into account for the "new ways" that will follow the current pandemic...?


Of course, life in itself, is more important than having the nicest home, and nobody will argue with that, but this does not mean we all have to sacrifice having beautifully designed and constructed homes, it is just that the way we go about it will change, but the fact remains we all want better lives, and possibly even more so now ...


One thing that has suffered hugely due to the pandemic, is the travel industry.. there will from now on be far less travellers and this will remain so for a long time... because even when they do find a vaccination and possibly a cure, we will still be less likely to travel, "just incase, better to be safe than sorry"... and that is the future for sure.


We are now going to spend far more time at home because for many it will be work, and for all it will be less travelling, either for work, pleasure or family.. simply put, our homes will become the centre of our lives like never before... if you count the last five decades or so since "travel" became so easy... Travel is now a danger to our lives, it exposes us to unnecessary health risks, it pollutes the world we all live in and although its a wonderful way to see and take in the world around us with all of its cultures and natural wonders, we are killing it, and ourselves, by travelling too much... and so we need to spend more time at home, and there is no way around it whatsoever...


Thats where we architects and designers step in... Because wether you are deciding to build a new home, add extensions to an existing one, or remodelling.. our expertise and advice could become more important than before... in fact, I am counting on it, because other types of projects that we would normally do, like retail design, hotels, commercial offices, etc.. may be in a steep decline..


Your home, will now be considered far more important than before, and for those lucky enough to have the interior and exterior space needed, each square meter will become vital to you and the way that you choose to use it for family, business, entertaining and isolating.

Over the decades I have designed villas, villa compounds, extensions, conversion, remodelling, glass rooms, landscaping, garden rooms, pools and a myriad of accommodations and how they perform, look and give relaxation to my clients... but now I will need to use all of that experience, all of those decades of design, to make best use of space for the new needs of my clients, taking into consideration the existing and new needs of life...


Its not only time to rethink our wasteful live so that we had before the virus, and that we consumed too much, and we wasted food, resources and time on non-essential things in life, but also that we would go shopping several times a week when once is probably more than enough, that we occupy offices where the work could easily or at least efficiently be done from home. We were and are a wasteful civilisation and everything will now change, not because we suddenly got a conscious, but because we have had to...


In a previous blog, I mentioned how happy I am to work from home and that I had already started down this path long ago, and ok, I am lucky enough to be able to do that, but then so are many of you too... My close friend and sponsor works for the Dubai Government in an important position and he has found working from home easier than he though it might be. There will of course still be times to attend meetings, but they will be less.. If we could work from home as our main work centre, then why the need for offices.?. it would be better to share offices, only use them when absolutely vital... Of course sanitisation would become a major factor, but that would easily be achieved... and instead of building thousands of offices, we could share only when required... and in a controlled environment where technology and good practice for hygiene will be used and monitored to ensure a safe environment.


Imagine a Government with all of its thousands of departments, instead of owning and maintaining thousands of offices, instead it had only say hundreds of offices with each department only needing to use space on a limited basis because most employees will be working from home ? This can be monitored through modern technology, virtual meetings can still take place and maybe with the live walls, something I mentioned before, where you are virtually in a office with as many others as is needed to ensure you feel part of a department, and you can easily ask questions when they need to be answered in real time... Privacy ? Of course, in fact you have more than before when you were in an office with others, because a virtual home office would restrict the views of you and of those in your virtual office wall... also meaning the management will see you are beavering away and completing your tasks... but more importantly, you are engaging with others and they with you... A company could then instead of paying out for expensive office space, and with all of its overheads and build costs, instead spend a fraction by investing into the technology you will need to use your home as a virtual office...


The large screen and video technology for real time engagement with your colleagues can be linked to as many as required, you will control it from your home, but equally, the company will know when you are working, which will probably turn out to be far more efficient in time than you getting into your car, travelling to work, parking, walking, work day and then all over again in the evening trying to miss the car jams and delays... You will become more productive not just because you spend less time travelling, but also because if you need a five minute break to unwind or reset your head... then a trip to the kitchen, take the dog for a walk, pet the cat, play with the kids, will destress you far more than taking a coffee at Starbucks !


It is obvious that I am totally committed to working from home, and I hope many of you who can, will. Not forgetting that I can help with the design and fit-out issues... after all, apart from writing my thoughts on a regular basis, I also hope to engage with as many of you as possible and that some of that will result in work for me... at Home.


Andrew J Bannister





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