Challenges and Opportunities for Architects in 2021

Challenges and Opportunities for Architects in 2021

Looking back to 2020, the global pandemic had placed new rules on society, which have been a catalyst to rethink much of what we take for granted in the architecture industry. From macro to micro, these changes could shape our lives for years to come. Though we can’t say exactly what 2021 will be like, we can summarize the current trends we’ve been on for the past year, and foresee a range of challenges and opportunities architects may face.

Reshape Office Buildings

It is not necessary to address this anymore, since most of us are teleworking for the past year, and large office buildings and skyscrapers have been deserted, especially in central business districts. This provokes another question: Are these buildings still necessary?

There is a tendency of a shift away from large city offices, and some architects are re-evaluating the need for these spacious and expensive offices. At the same time, the absence of these offices could be detrimental to surrounding businesses, especially to small businesses. Bars, cafés, and stores cannot offer an escape anymore. All of these trends may lead architects to reallocate their buildings and rethink the space design.

New Domestic Space Design

Quarantine makes all nonessential workers more intimately acquainted with the confines of their homes. Spending so long in one place might require an environment that can change more freely so that people don’t get bored. For architects, it is a soul-searching exercise, especially for interior designers. Confronting the limits of domestic space has made architects rethink how to better design space for future homes, with decent privacy and handy flexibility. Meanwhile, people will really take it into account as they assess their homes in the future.

Public Space Design

The only space people can use is private space or public space, there is nothing in between. Just as we’ve confronted the limits of our own homes, we’re also aware of every flaw of public space. Restaurants, bars, cafés, and hotels, these kinds of businesses that have to close during quarantine are making up our routine of social life. Social distancing is no longer a “request”, but our “new normal”. It is important for architects to think about how these spaces can be kept safe during moments like the COVID-19 pandemic, with the function to maintain social distancing while allowing people to be outdoors.

Reuse & Prefabricated Modular Construction – Particularly in Healthcare Industry

So far, the pandemic’s impact on urbanism has shown up in small changes that can be implemented faster than a new building or zoning plan. The best example is the conversion of something random into a temporary hospital. In February 2020, two 1,000-bed and 1,500-bed hospitals were built in Wuhan as part of China’s sweeping efforts to fight the COVID-19. Huoshenshan Hospital and Leishenshan Hospital were built by construction crews who worked around the clock in 14 days on the vacant lot by a lake. The same happens to New York’s Javits center, which has been converted into a 2,900-bed hospital. A number of facilities have been converted into medical facilities since the start of the pandemic. The quick and flexible nature of reuse and prefabricated modular construction could be the new trend of the medical industry that architects should be aware of. In April 2020, eVolo Magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 Skyscraper Competition. If you check this blog here, you will find more detailed information about the Prefabricated Epidemic Babel designed by Chinese architects. (

For architects, behind every building lies a purpose and an amazing story of spark, endeavor, and perseverance. In a post-pandemic world, flexibility probably is one of the most important lessons we’ve learned. This is not only a question about space but about society. There are challenges for architects, but opportunities as well. They lie in creating more flexible spaces for coexistence and leisure, in realizing the importance of change, and in building a new world for human beings.

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