Architects

GUEST ARTICLE: Silver linings emerge for UK architects in lockdown, new study reveals

  • 26 May 2020

A new ‘Remote Studio’ survey of 190 UK architects, conducted by PropTech startup, Weaver, reveals hyper-accelerated digital transformation is leading to unexpected design innovations, cost efficiencies, and more collaborative relationships with clients.

When the government asked architectural studios to work remotely across the country, the industry felt a collective shock. As a trade based on physical sites, building models, and construction teams, going fully remote was not an obvious route to travel for architectural firms.

Following the announcement, PropTech startup Weaver faced a barrage of questions from their architectural customers around what tools are best for remote working. To help educate the industry-at-large, they have undertaken research to identify the technologies being used by the more forward-thinking architects to both survive and thrive as remote studios. 

190 leading UK architects responded to the survey. The resulting report, published on Tuesday 19 May, is a surprisingly deep and positive industry snapshot showing how UK architect studios are evolving. 

Principal CEO at Jo Cowen ArchitectsJo Cowen, commented: “The key thing is really being positive. There is too much panic and doom mongering around and what we need to do is to instill, in our clients, consultants and people around us, a positive approach that this is just a change to normal working practice and a temporary period of uncertainty.

“We should not perpetuate a doom and gloom sentiment within the industry as we feed off each other and this can only hamper proactivity and the mind set to minimise the impacts in the long term.

“And what we want to do is really drive ideas and solutions during this time – At JCA it’s about using it as an opportunity.”

Principal architect at Studio McleodDuncan Mcleod, said: “These restrictions will allow us to expand where we can work – someone might say we want London architects to build new build houses in Cornwall, Devon and the Outer Hebrides – whereas previously a client would have worked with local architects because there’s a sense that we need to be closeby.

“What I’m hoping is that these accelerated forced moves forward mean that we have the technology to be able to interact with that client and be able to work in a wider field.”

Project Architect at Urbanist Architecture, Irkus Altuna, said: “Since the lockdown, we’ve had to change the way we work with our clients – but we’ve used the tools we have got to make a positive change.

“Because we are no longer physically standing up and presenting something to them, the interaction has become much more conversational and collaborative. The act of discussing, rather than presenting, has had a massive effect on the engagement of our clients.”

The new Remote Studio report created from the findings of the survey,  provides a valuable insight for architects into: 

 – The day-to-day of successful remote practices
 – The tools that architects are using to manage daily workflow
 – The technologies – including VR, AR, MR and even drones – firms are embracing to communicate their design visions at a distance
 – How innovative practices are maintaining company cultures and employee wellbeing with technology
 – The positive outcomes and opportunities resulting from the great lockdown experiment

The survey data and interview quotes have been collated and curated into The Remote Studio Report, which can be read via the following links: WEB | PDF.

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