Architecture and living spaces under the “new normal”
Nati lives in the Philippines and is CEO of Italpinas Development Corporation (IDC) a listed real estate company focus on developing green buildings in emerging cities in the country. Nati says architecture and housing design will definitely be affected by the coronavirus health crisis, especially the need for healthier surroundings. “We have been spending many weeks in our own homes and we are still confined into them. If it is true that the environment can influence and affect our psyche, our inner well-being and the way we think and perceive, we understand now more than ever the importance of our living space. People around the country have been coping in different ways with this enhanced community quarantine. There have been people that adapted easily but there have been even many cases of anxiety attacks, due to this situation,” he said. Nati said green and open spaces in a natural environment is good for mental health at a time where people’s lives are filled with anxiety and fear. “The bottom line is that people now understood how important is to live in a healthier surrounding. In green, open, and natural environments the exposure to sunlight has proven to hamper the spreading of the virus. Fresh air and a connection to the outdoors has also become important for our mental health,” according to the architect. If you consider these things, Nati said it is easy to anticipate an increased interest in better, cleaner, healthier and greener living spaces that have more natural light and are naturally ventilated.
He said some of these practices are already part of green architecture and sustainable design. “Now, however, the impetus is not only from a global, environmental level but also from a personal level, in placing a greater emphasis on what’s healthiest for ourselves as well (and not just for the planet),” he said. Nati said more and more architects will now be designing to follow this path. “As architects, we will have to take into consideration more and more the relationship between the built environment and the out-door spaces both in horizontal and in vertical developments. Mid-rise and high-rise condominium buildings should also have a dialogue with nature and the outdoors. This is not something that should be looked by designers of multi-story buildings. At the same time, comfortable indoor spaces will definitely become more relevant in case of more prolonged indoor living,” he said. At the same time, common areas in the various developments will be drastically affected and Nati expects “a lot of innovations" to offer a more comfortable environment for its residents. Nati says COVID-19 has not spared the property industry and property investments in general.
“All industries have been affected obviously. This is an economic crisis even worse than the one in 2008 and we have seen many companies struggling in their respective industries. As for the property industry in general, developers will have to start thinking differently and be ready to leave their comfort zones to be more creative and provide sustainable and livable properties,” he said.
For IDC, Nati said the company may be ahead of its competitors as the company has always focused its development on the provinces and leveraged the significant growth potential of well-chosen sites outside Metro Manila. “Considering the recent scenario, and Balik Probinsya type of programs and the projected reverse-migration from congested urban agglomerations, IDC’s strategy has become even more acutely relevant than before,” he said. In addition to relevant geographic positioning, IDC’s existing products will also increase in relevance in the post-COVID market. He said all IDC buildings are certified green by EDGE (Excellence in Design for a Greater Efficiency) which is a Green Rating System developed by the International Finance Corporation which is part of the World Bank Group. “The use of Passive Green Features such us; increased natural ventilation and shaded facades, together with the production of renewable energy (through the use of photovoltaic panels) and water recycling, make possible to deliver to the end-user, greater comfort and a lighter energy and water consumption without a substantial cost increase,” he said. “The possibility of future emergency scenarios, these same design philosophies will also address demand for health and comfort in the post-COVID market by ensuring direct access to fresh air, indirect natural light, energy production, reduced water consumption, uplifting natural aesthetic in key locations close to supply chains but far from congested and polluted environments,” he said.
He said IDC is now taking steps to stay abreast of market sentiment so that it can continue to fine-tune product offerings and be even more relevant to the market in the post-pandemic period than ever before.