Impacts of Covid-19 on architecture and how cities will change

Henning Rasmuss is a Founding Director and International Projects Director at Paragon Group - Architects. He has personally worked in 23 countries in Africa. We chat about how cities will change, impacts on Covid-19 on architecture and the built environment, continued urbanization, positive vibes, the new 'normal' and do we actually need sport?

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Key Takeaways

His worst nightmares of Covid-19

  • A collapse of the consumer industry.
  • Massive unemployment.
  • Massive debt is coming.
  • Pushing social stresses. Anger will boil over.

The end of rapid Urbanisation?

  • Urbanisation has a large number of drivers that are global.
  • Henning explains many drivers of urbanisation.
  • Cities are still a great opportunity provider.
  • Cities offer life.

Beliefs that have been confirmed by Covid-19

  • A lot of us can actually work from home.
  • We can all do with less, we don’t need all this entertainment and ‘stuff’.
  • Do we actually need Sport?
  • Do I really have to fly for all these meetings? No.
  • Huge shifts are coming. Nobody is not getting wet at the moment.
  • Not all adjustments will be bad, there will be many good ones.

Cities will change

  • Communities are becoming incredibly strong through this crisis.
  • We can put immense pressure on politicians and enforce a greater level of accountability.
  • People won’t be passive citizens anymore.

Impacts on Covid-19 on architecture

  • The impact of the closure of sites will drive up costs.
  • Supply line challenges. 70% + of supplies for buildings are imported.
  • Delays from suppliers even after Covid-19.
  • Perfect time to rethink where we buy our ‘stuff’ from.
  • We have to make things for ourselves instead of importing most of it.
  • Moral and social obligation to look at local procurement in a different way.
  • The path forward is not to go back to normal, the world has changed.

Encouragement for architects and the built environment

  • We are all afraid, but panicking doesn’t help. Control what you can control.
  • Reconsider where our actual value sits as an industry.
  • Rethink how we as architects charge for our services.
  • Don’t look at the government to solve your problems. It has little means to help you.
  • Look at your moral compass.

About Henning and Paragon Group

Henning was born in Johannesburg. Influenced by the building boom in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, and fascinated by the energy of large building sites, Henning chose to study architecture – graduating Cum Laude from Wits University in 1994.

After early works completed in Berlin, Johannesburg, and Hong Kong, he co-founded Paragon Architects in 1997 with Anthony Orelowitz. He is a founding director of all companies in the Paragon Group. Since 2012, he has been responsible for all the Group’s International Projects, and for Business Development in Africa. This has led to project engagements in 18 countries on the continent, and completed projects in 11 countries.

Henning’s most notable achievements include Winner of the Takiron Japan Architect International Ideas Competition 1998; Finalist for the Daimler Chrysler Awards for South African Art in 2008; and work as design architect for the world’s largest cable-supported glass roof on the Cape Town Stadium for the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010.

He has contributed as curator towards, among others, exhibitions on South African architecture at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2000; at the São Paulo Biennale of Architecture in 2003, 2005 and 2007 through sharpCITY; at the AEDES Gallery in Berlin in 2006; and at the Architekturzentrum Wien (AZW) in 2006.

Henning has contributed numerous articles to South African and international design and architecture publications; and co-wrote and co-published the books ‘Contemporary South African Architecture in a Landscape of Transition’ (2006), and ‘Cape Town Stadium: Between the Lines’ (2010). He lectures by invitation; has served as external examiner for various universities; and has served as Jury Member for the Corobrik Architecture Student of the Year Award in 2011, 2012, 2013, and for the Kenya Association of Architects Award of Merit in 2014.

Paragon Group
 comprises three divisions: Paragon Architects, Paragon Interface, and Paragon Architects South Africa.

ARCHITECTURE

We understand architecture as a craft. Our work is driven by a true passion for the process of architecture. We embrace technology and all it offers as the enabling connector between architecture and other design disciplines. We invest in technology and in the people who want to master it.

Acknowledged as an innovator and thought leader in commercial architecture in South Africa, Paragon Architects has learned from Angola since 2002, Brazil since 2003, Uganda since 2005, Rwanda since 2007, Kenya since 2010, and Namibia, Botswana, eSwatini, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia and Morocco since 2012.

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE

Paragon Interface is an internationally active space planning and interior architecture business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. We deliver a complete range of corporate workspace designs and implementation services for ambitious and innovative clients. The company has been part of the Paragon Group since 2002, when it was acquired as a going concern from its original owners. 

Our completed work includes workplace solutions for major Financial Services clients, such as Barclays Bank, Barclays Capital, ABSA Bank Limited, ABSA Capital, Stanlib, Standard Chartered, Alexander Forbes, Credit Suisse, and ongoing work for major legal practices such as Norton Rose. We have ongoing work from some of South Africa’s top developers and property funds and have implemented projects for Total Coal and General Electric. The company has also been part of multi-disciplinary teams undertaking portfolio-wide multi-year space rationalization and consolidation strategies for financial sector clients.

PARAGON ARCHITECTS SOUTH AFRICA

Paragon Architects South Africa (Pty) Ltd is a dynamic and innovative local South African business unit of the Paragon Group of design businesses. The company is a full-service architectural practice offering a complete range of design, documentation, and contract management services across a range of project types. Our work ranges from corporate head offices to retail centers, and from leisure projects to industrial projects as well as Local and National Government projects. Some of our most complex and challenging projects have been building refurbishment projects throughout the inner city of Johannesburg and surrounds.

Paragon Architects South Africa (Pty) Ltd has a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment rating of LEVEL 2 under the Construction Industry Transformation Charter. The company is 51% black South African-owned by Thulani Sibande, who was appointed to this position in November 2012.

Web: https://www.paragon.co.za/

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