The new face of realty design and construction
Atul Date, project group head, Rustomjee Group, highlights the key changes we can expect in real estate, post Covid-19
Architecture through the ages has been a reflection of the lifestyles, economic situation and the general requirements of that specific time period. The prime rule of architecture has always been that ‘form follows function.’ Thus, architects and designers are now facing the challenge of creating homes that will follow the ‘new normal’ of social distancing in a world where the threat of Covid-19 will continue to loom until a vaccine is developed.
When it comes to residential buildings, construction standards would need to adopt standards similar to healthcare in terms of better ventilation systems, effective sanitation systems and well equipped overall emergency response framework. Health security and screening shall become a norm for all developments. While most have adopted the system of video door phones and use of RFID technology for vehicle security, augmenting it with temperature/health screening would be considered the new normal for security. Common amenities within the gated communities need to be designed with extra care; space for ambulance parking, doctor-on-call room, care room for attending to medical emergencies equipped with basic infrastructure need to be incorporated as an integral part of design.
Other than this, single family residences may see a shift towards larger units with segmented planning as opposed to open planning that better accommodate working from home for all of the unit occupants. There will be a shift towards designing multi-functional spaces, wherein the bedrooms are easily converted to working spaces with sufficient privacy and use of intelligent movable furniture. Similarly teleconferencing setups in home offices need to be incorporated as part of the design. Home automation will play a big role to mitigate contagion - use of ‘touchless’ technology viz. automatic doors, voice activated elevators, phone controlled keyless entry, and hands-free light switches are some of the things that immediately come to mind and should be adopted across future projects.
Commercial real estate development will be very adversely impacted considering almost half of humanity is confined to their residences. One can foresee a steep decline in demand for any commercial office space. Work from home has become the norm for a lot of establishments and with the internet and telecom networks most of the employees have been able to adapt themselves in the new way of functioning. If virtual working is successful and if we are more productive it's fundamentally going to change the value proposition of shared workspace. This tectonic shift towards remote working will force a new thought and usage for the existing leased commercial spaces and retail spaces in malls. Spaces demarcated for social gatherings will need to be repurposed for a new role.
When it comes to the economics of real estate, developers will look at cost reduction as the key to immediate survival so most of the projects shall see a revisit of their original design intents. Large gated communities with better infrastructure facilities will be a preferred buy. Developers are taking it slow and do not foresee any big projects being launched in the near future. The next 12 to 18 months are going to be very tough as psychological fears coupled with constant uncertainty take a massive toll on the buyer sentiment.