Editor's Letter: What can be done to salvage the industry?

With the industry being described as a “mess” by construction leaders, who does the onus fall on to revive the built environment?

Construction Week editor Ashley Williams (pictured)
ITP Media Group
Construction Week editor Ashley Williams (pictured)

While normality resumes from the impact of COVID-19 and society gets back to business, the construction industry has started its healing process on how we must adapt to the cliché phrase of ‘The new normal’.

The sudden and rapid spread of the pandemic has dramatically accelerated a shift in how the built environment must adapt and survive to ensure a sustainable future.

It is inevitable that there will be retained fears around social gatherings, crowds and social interaction, which is why big changes will have to be made quickly and efficiently.

It has been fascinating to hear from some of the major players on their plans for the future, and there are three particular interactions that have stood out to me during these times.

Firstly, LWK + Partners MENA managing director, Kerem Cengiz, recently told me about how the design and architecture of large malls are likely to be remodelled into smaller subdivided zones to avoid overcrowding.

He also mentioned that car parking areas could be revamped to adapt for contactless supermarket pick-up zones, including separate access and refrigerated lockers with unique access codes.

The responsibility for ensuring the future of the industry is also falling on the next-generation of engineers, which was showcased through ALEC and Cundall’s collaborative ‘Project of the Future’ event.

The event challenged aspiring engineers from ALEC and Cundall to come up with an innovative concept that will mitigate mistakes and ensure project delivery.

ALEC CEO Kez Taylor and managing director Hercu Viljoen, as well as Cundall’s managing director and partner Richard Stratton reviewed ideas from three groups within the companies.

Another method of development that has kicked up a notch in recent months is the use of modular construction.

Touted as the future of how buildings are set to be constructed, modular construction is set to play a key role for the Middle East.

Many modular construction companies have already made preparations in creating more co-working spaces for corporate offices, and with children set to return back to school in September, the next step is targeting the education sector.

Through this trend, Construction Week has partnered with Losberger De Boer for our ‘Hard Hat Chat’ webinar series with our first episode to be launched on the 21 July at 2pm.

While anxiety levels are still high, it is encouraging that construction stakeholders are acting rapidly to adapt to our changing marketplace.

There will be many twists and turns along the way, but this is what makes the construction industry riveting to be part of.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020