Product-specific features

With the world still in the grip of COVID-19, the built environment is having to respond. While lockdown is easing, it is being done on the condition that social distancing and hygiene are top of the agenda for individuals and businesses. This means changes to the places we work, shop and relax; changes that are likely to remain until next year at least.

This has been an unprecedented year on many levels, what with construction sites having to implement social distancing measures and four in 10 architects reportedly struggling with their mental health during lockdown . The industry has been battling to keep sites open and building work progressing, and the UK’s 2020 outlook now sits between a contraction of 5 to 12%, with the bounce back in 2021 forecast to be between 1 and 10%.

Major construction projects are becoming increasingly more complex, involve multiple task teams and span several years, making projects fraught with challenges. As individual task teams work in isolation from other members of the delivery team, the result is unsynchronised processes and procedures with no defined standards for quality control. As a result, issues are only identified as work commences on site, causing abortive work and wasted materials which all come at a cost to the project and the environment, says Paul Hargreaves, Group BIM Manager at TÜV SÜD.

Last month, the UK Government announced its plans to encourage the nation to “build, build, build” as part of its efforts to kick-start the UK economy post-coronavirus. While there is much to be admired in this sentiment, we must not lose sight of other important issues the construction and building product manufacturing sectors need to address, particularly around sustainability.

As many companies begin thinking about a return to the office following lockdown, it’s clear that we are entering a new era of workplace design. Being socially distant in an office environment presents many challenges, but it’s a factor we will have to live with for months, or potentially even years, writes Laura Light, Concept Design Team Leader at Interface.

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