As we go around the world and pick the minds of global design experts from Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and the UK, we get an insight on how they’re dealing with the current pandemic and what are their future plans for revolutionising the built and design industry
1. HOW HAS COVID-19 CHANGED THE WAY YOUR COMPANY DOES BUSINESS?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: COVID-19 has been detrimental to businesses..….period! Perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration but on the first week of MCO, it certainly felt that way. We were paralysed, trying to figure out what’s going on, how long this is going to go on for, whether all our projects would die an unnatural death etc. But in time we have settled into getting things done albeit remotely and we are concentrating on projects that still will go on despite the current challenges. The biggest change is the way we communicate especially in larger groups and this has its benefits as well.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: For our team, we have to work remotely. That would be the most awkward thing, to begin with. I have never worked on the design alone nor collaborate with my team without face to face meetings, but we learned how to live with it eventually.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: It has changed it drastically, and dramatically over a short period for us to quickly adapt to the situation. We have to focus on figuring out ways to sustain efficiency in every aspect of the business.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: COVID-19 is one of the most significant phenomena of our time. It has drastically changed our mental and physical processes – how we think and moves with unprecedented difficulties. However, COVID-19 has also opened new possibilities for us to create a better world for humans and all other beings.
As a design studio, we are also facing difficulties, but we are using this as a learning experience as well. While we are forced to avoid physical contact, we now have an opportunity to become more mentally engaged. We are learning how to communicate without physical contact while still producing quality results.
I feel like the challenges we are facing, though some are more difficult to overcome than others, will help our business become more sensitive towards humanity.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: It has accelerated our move into technology and virtuality. Almost everything was moved on-line with the physical office shut down and only acting as a “server” for data and referencing. Meetings became a bit more efficient with most people turning up on time. Brainstorming and idea generation sessions were a bit more difficult without the use of large whiteboards. Also, not everything can be done as efficiently on the computer screen. Some of our larger master planning work still requires large layout space for hand drawings.
2. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS, DURING THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: It is difficult to run a business via remote control even with the various video conferencing platforms available. Trying to brainstorm on design issues with your team is not the same as a face-to-face discussion where they are not so conscious about contributing their thoughts. It is also difficult to cross-check drawings unless you have an A0 printer in your house, which is unlikely, and checking PDF documents is not convenient especially for large drawings. The biggest issue, however, is with construction coming to a halt and the local authorities no longer working. This has caused all the building permits and construction work to come to a standstill which in turn has affected our livelihood as our main source of income is based on mile-stones like obtaining approvals and site progress. Therefore the cash-flow has also been severely affected.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: The biggest challenge is the business itself; how to maintain the consistency of income during this uncertain time. We understand that this pandemic will be somewhat temporary so we will keep most of our amazing team, the best we possibly can. We also have to accept the fact that payment by our clients will be uncertain in the nature of this situation.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Firstly, this is a sudden and unprecedented event, no one is prepared and therefore, there are no precedent references that we can use to guide us through this challenging time. Secondly is the uncertainty itself. Sometimes, to a point that, if plan A doesn’t work, plan B is just ‘wait and see’.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: Having to move in a matter of days from a studio-based centre of operations to remote working, with the majority of interior designers and architects now working from home, was a logistical challenge. Luckily, as so much of KPL’s work is overseas, most of our systems were already remotely accessible and our team very used to working from different locations. A flexible and responsive in-house IT expert has been key in ensuring a seamless and fast transfer to the new way of operating.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: One of the biggest challenges we are facing is that of income. Architecture to some extent focuses on “making things real.” Working in real sites to construct digital plans is an integral part of architecture. We cannot just create a design and not see it through to completion. The lockdown either minimizes or puts a stop to these activities, disrupting the flow of revenue. Consequently, with no new projects coming in, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pay our staff’s salaries. With all these disruptions to the status quo, we need new ideas to keep things running smoothly.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: The first obstacle that we resolved was our business cash flow to ensure that we survive the Covid-19 pandemic, the lock-down and the uncertainty as to how long it would last, and the economic landscape after it has passed. After that, the challenge was to keep a cheerful and optimistic outlook and to encourage team members to maintain their creativity and productivity. We took full advantage of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and managed to complete the publication of a new 288-page architectural book featuring 26 Houses entitled The Tropical Malaysian House 2. We also launched preview sales on-line and via zoom. Probably the first and only book launched during the lock-down anywhere in the world! Happy to say that sales have been very good.
3. WHAT ARE THE NEW WAYS YOUR COMPANY HAS IMPLEMENTED TO HELP RUN THE BUSINESS MORE SMOOTHLY?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: We are currently using video conferencing like Zoom and Skype, apart from WhatsApp and emails and sometimes phone calls. Organisational apps like Trello is also useful to keep track of the office projects progress under one platform. I believe that these new ways of organising and communicating will continue even after the pandemic is over because there are many benefits to online conferences and meetings. You need not battle the traffic to get where you want to get and there are no more excuses for blaming the traffic if you are late. The meetings can be recorded and can easily be used later to produce the minutes of meetings.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: Communications. We would ensure that we provide ourselves with a more sufficient communication system, both among our team and to the client. Social distancing should only be gaping us physically.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: They are not exactly new ways. But rather optimizing the use of digital technology including the internet, mobile communication and cloud servers. In normal circumstances, we don’t take full advantage of them as we take the physical form of communication and contacts for granted.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: I run a highly structured design studio at all times regardless of the current crisis. With 47 designers and architects to manage and a large number of complex, and sophisticated projects to oversee, systems of management, set lines of communication and general personal organisation are key. This has now moved online with daily team meetings happening via video conferencing.
I require design oversight as many of our projects are at a critical design, build or procurement stage. All the directors, therefore, report back to me daily with their team’s progress. I am in touch with our clients throughout the day on email, WhatsApp and video conferencing to keep them updated that their projects remain on target.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: One of the first and most important necessities is accessible communications. Currently, we rely on the internet and virtual communication to run the non-physical parts of the business. We use Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Viber, to name a few. Using these programs, we can maintain contact with staff and clients, however, very few clients are connecting with us due to the uncertainty of the future. We are still using design software such as CAD, Max, SketchUp etc. though we are now much more reliant on them as we cannot safely use the office and physical models. We are utilizing all the software at our disposal to ensure that we can move our work forward even from home.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: We have always been working as a design or art studio with teams working under team leaders. This has proven to be essential in running a large design practice with more than 100 staff during the lockdown. Information, direction and instructions are easily conveyed up and down the line. Working From Home (WFH) poses a different set of problems for different people. It takes a lot of self-discipline to WFH. We encouraged employees to set up a suitable workspace at home and to try to work according to some set times. But flexibility is a given.
4. HOW HAVE YOU BEEN KEEPING IN CONTACT WITH YOUR CLIENTS AND EMPLOYEES?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: With our staff, we have our weekly meetings and for the projects that are still active we still have our client-consultant meetings usually via Zoom. On on-site projects, there have been no meetings and it has become eerily quiet especially from our contractors who are usually the ones calling us regularly regarding on-site issues, their progress claims etc.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: In this modern world, we use whatever tools that come in handy; phone calls, Line or Zoom.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Primarily phone calls and text messages. But we enjoy our new found meeting platforms via video conferencing. Not that we had not done this before, but without this pandemic, it was only confined to communication with overseas counterparts.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: Depending on client’s preferences and the stage of the project, client communications mean video calls, WhatsApp or text messages throughout the day, detailed email correspondence or just a brief executive summary of key milestones achieved throughout the week. As the majority of our clients are abroad our mode of communications hasn’t changed much during the COVID period. Design presentations can happen via video conferencing and are a very efficient way of communicating with our busy clients.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: We have maintained contact with clients and employees via virtual meetings, WhatsApp, WeChat, telegraph etc. At the same time, we also gather feedback on the project sales by our clients, and also the changes to our day-to-day environment as a result of new norms such as masks, SOPs and social distancing.
5. WHAT ARE THE WAYS YOU’VE BEEN KEEPING UP THE SPIRITS/MORALE WITHIN THE COMPANY?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: The first thing is to promise that their salaries will not be affected, as long as they keep being productive on the projects that they have been assigned to and the work will be eventually paid by the client. As we are a small firm we can move our staff around to concentrate on projects that are still on the drawing board rather than the ones on site. With bigger firms, this would be difficult to achieve and the unfortunate reality is that many will be laid off.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: We make sure there are some tasks that are required to be completed, daily and weekly. Luckily, Architects and Designers are always the professions with high spirits when it comes to the work they believe in.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: We must keep constant communication. Maintain as open as possible to keep us busy and focus towards continuing to deliver our service to our clients. Besides that, we discuss the welfare of our team members to ensure that everyone is well, safe and comfortable during this trying time.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: I find it is so important to keep a positive mental attitude to keep morale up and everyone working productively. Staff meetings on zoom are kept upbeat and fast-flowing and I make a point of speaking to each member of staff quickly to check in and keep spirits up. I encourage teams to chat and communicate over hangouts throughout the day as creative thinking is aided by group discussion and interaction. We used to have company yoga classes in the studio and many employees are keeping this up with a sun salutation first thing. Exercise is key in keeping a positive attitude – I myself am jumping around with my two boys in front of the wonderful Joe Wicks every morning!
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: Apart from the issue of maintaining smooth business operation, we also need to be able to maintain healthy morale for our staff and their families during these times. With the disruption to income, financial incentives have become an unviable option, so we went about it another way. We launched a sort of training program for our staff to help them refine existing skills as well as learn new ones through rigorous work on all available projects we have, including ones that are not urgent. We are working diligently with extra care and attention to detail, engaging our architects/ engineers deeply to help them keep their minds off recent difficulties and equip them better for the future.
We have also introduced higher-level coordination between architecture and engineering, tackling issues like structure, electrics, mechanics, and plumbing. This allows us to improve the quality of our work and better prepare for future projects. Additionally, we provided our staff with a three-month limited financial support package to help them through the short term.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: I greet all my team leaders and staff every morning via WhatsApp with a cheerful Good Morning followed by the number of days we have been in the Movement Control Order (MCO). This is to keep everyone motivated and also to give some form of relativity as to the duration we have been in such a situation … and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
6. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED THE BUILT AND DESIGN INDUSTRY IN YOUR COUNTRY?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: The impact is severe and crosses right through the industry. With the advent of a recession or even the possibility of a depression coming soon, most banks will be slowing down the release of loans and developers, in turn, will be re-scheduling or cancelling launches as people start to tighten their belts. As we currently have a huge over-supply of high-end residential and commercial space I believe the shift now will be towards affordable housing and community-based projects. I believe that the pandemic will not cause a permanent change in the building industry but only temporary one; the only question is how long for its full effects to be seen shortly and how long it will take for a full recovery.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: Not much. Most investors have been already in the slow down for a few months before the pandemic, as it has been a downturn in Thailand since the end of last year. The pandemic will only add a slightly worse situation on top of what is already an economic Titanic. For our company, all of our clients still move their project forward. I hope that is the same situation to most of other design company in Thailand.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: In general, adversely for now. But if we look at it at the micro-level, the pandemic does not necessarily affect all projects. Design projects always run at various stages. So for example, projects that are on the drawing boards, or amid design development and documentation are not supposed to be heavily affected, if we are smart enough to work around it. However, projects that are under construction are directly affected as construction sites are ordered to close.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: The current situation will certainly impact the global economy, and therefore undoubtedly also impact the build and design industry in the UK and London. However I believe that more than ever there will be a requirement for designers, and studios, that can work in a timely, efficient and highly productive manner. Our clients still require their homes and developments to be completed and with a personal and trusting relationship, they know that regardless of the global environment I will ensure everything is completed perfectly.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: When considering the long term, however, there is a lot of contention regarding the future of the built and design industry in Bangladesh. I believe the pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on our industry. The contributions of this sector in our G.D.P was no less than 15% before the outbreak. The massive disruptions caused by the pandemic is causing that value to drop as it affects most if not all of the 200+ subsectors of this industry, putting us into a grave economic situation.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: In Malaysia, every non-essential service or business was shut down since 18th March 2020. Construction work, project submissions for building permits, tenders all ground to a halt. We are just slowly coming out now with many hurdles still along the way. The near term impact is an increase in costs and losses to all parties. The mid and longer-term will depend a lot on how we can overcome Covid-19. It is still too early to tell what the longer-term effects will be.
7. HOW WILL THIS CHANGE THE WAY THE GLOBAL BUILT INDUSTRY DOES BUSINESS IN THE FUTURE?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: Well for one I hope that the government will also pick up on e-submissions more like they have done recently and reduce red-tape and hopefully that in turn reduces the chances of corruption because everything is done online and is transparent. The outcome of that then will be the reduction of paper waste, travel, easing congestion and C02 emissions etc…..a win-win for humans and mother earth!
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: I do not personally think it will be much different. People have always been created the same way that it was since the beginning of this century. There will be pieces of technology that will be added to our way of life; to ease it, mostly. But changing the way we practice globally will be too much of a fantasy.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: In the long run, the COVID-19 will change the landscape of the industry to be more pandemic proof. Or at least to be more prepared to cushion the impact by making sure that business can continue and work around the pandemic. Although physical construction works cant take place at the construction site, the time can be spent to reanalyse, re-engineer and restructure projects to achieve a more efficient delivery.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: COVID 19 has actually helped us to understand that we can achieve so much remotely. By utilising the incredibly sophisticated digital platforms, that are now commonplace in every country, we can see that there is less requirement for large central offices and design studios. Multiple small teams, working globally, with close direction and oversight from a central hub, maybe something we see continuing long after this uncertain time has passed.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: Looking outside Bangladesh, I believe the changes the global built industry will see will be manifold. Technology will likely be the game changer in this front. The use of personal and environmental health protection equipment may become part of the design and construction criteria. There will be a greater focus on creating more green and on the reduction of structural footprints to pave a path for a better environment, human, and immune system. I mention the immune system because I see the current state of things as a complete political failure. Scientists and experts have been predicting an outbreak like this for years, but their warnings were paid no heed. The issue of climate change is still relevant but being equally ignored. As a result of this ignorance, the development of public health in the last many years have been insignificant. Despite many experts’ hard work, the pharmaceutical industry produced medicine for profit, not public health. Hospitals have become more like storage places for expensive equipment rather than places for the ill to seek aid. Our dependence on these costly medicines, equipment, and technologies, but not our immune systems, have made us fragile, vulnerable, and unsustainable. It is now more important than ever for the global built industry to shift its focus to creating environments that generate and support the sustainable human being and improve the global economy.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: The economic fallout from the lock-down and pandemic has very serious consequences on design practices. The entire design business needs to re-look and quickly re-invent itself. Beginning first by throwing out the old and archaic Employment Act. The future will see much more collaborative work between the best and the highest skilled people from all over the world, and less local people employed in the industry. Virtual meetings and technology have opened the door for that. There will no longer be any room for so-called “dead weights” to be employed by design firms anymore. The days of getting by with mediocrity are gone. Employees need to quickly upskill or be left out in the cold. Innovation and ideas are the keystones to the design business. These businesses will evolve to be smaller, quicker and smarter with working relationships to other equally smart and clever people all over the world.
8. HOW CAN THE BUILT INDUSTRY HELP THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN YOUR COUNTRY, POST COVID-19?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: As construction and building industry is a big contributor to the economy it is hoped that the government will spend on critical projects like infrastructure, housing, schools and community projects to spur the economic growth and to reduce unemployment. Private developers can hopefully concentrate on building affordable housing without sacrificing too much on design and quality. Hopefully, the outcome would be more developments using pre-fabricated or IBS type systems that can be both economical and sustainable.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Economically, I believe that there will be a positive surge in the building industry to catch up with the time and income loss during the pandemic. This should re-energize the economy and create healthy job opportunities.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: I believe that the British government will understand the importance of keeping construction underway in the UK. Construction means growth, employment and economic momentum at a time when many industries will be in danger of stagnation. I believe the building industry, be it large infrastructure projects or private residences, will be a key engine behind economic recovery
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: In Bangladesh, it is important to note that the economy is what had a major influence on the built industry, but after the pandemic is over, the industry can help us recuperate. Post COVID-19, it will be important to have a mix of good politics with a moderate economy. In this situation, the built industry can help by producing products based on the local economy, technology, and materiality to create sustainable environments and better practices for the future.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: Shelter (and buildings) are a basic necessity so they will continue to be in high demand. Social distancing and the new normal will give opportunities to explore out-of-the-box ideas and innovations. So plenty of new construction and renovation activity after the lull. However, the building industry will need to re-invent itself and wean itself off cheap foreign labour.
9. WHAT ARE THE CURRENT PRACTICES YOU HAVE ACQUIRED IN YOUR BUSINESSES DURING THESE TIMES THAT YOU WILL BRING FORWARD AND IMPLEMENT IN THE FUTURE?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: I found out that I didn’t realise how much thinking I did on behalf of my staff who are happy to be spoon-fed and follow orders so to speak. With the current situation, I found the work being produced lack thought and resourcefulness. I think I will be implementing more systems for self-checking and being more productive when things get back to normalcy….in fact, I’m already working on it. As architects and designers, we spend very little time marketing ourselves, so this is a good time to start building on that and acquiring new skills that will help propel the company. We are currently working on building our online presence.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: I think the online conference Zoom call will be a mode of communication that we practice well during this time and shall be replacing some of the remote conferences more in the future.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Interestingly, work from home and virtual meeting are two very potential opportunities that can save a lot of time and cost. We can eliminate the time spent in our country notorious traffic jams, as well as the cost of petrol and tolls. Also, avoid wasting half a day just to attend a one hour meeting which can be done virtually.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: Detailed internal briefing and reporting on a daily basis.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: Historically, the more difficult the times, the more innovative the achievements. The most important practice during this time is how to be with family and spend quality time while simultaneously giving nature a pause to recollect itself. I believe this is a fantastic practice that should be brought forward. Additionally, many of us are working from home, reducing vehicular movement and subsequently carbon emissions and time spent unnecessarily in traffic. Working from home has also led us to streamline many of our business processes to make them easier for individual members of staff to handle in comparison to having multiple people handle complicated processes in-office.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: Continue to question the norms, break out of the box and explore new ideas for a better tomorrow. To draw more, write more and to build more!
10. WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU DURING THESE CURRENT TIMES?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: That sometimes it is good to have the time to reflect where you have been, and where you are going, and how to overcome a similar challenge in our future which is becoming increasingly uncertain. Without a doubt, the people who have inspired me are our front-liners who have fearlessly sacrificed themselves for us and I take off my hat them. Our politicians have also contributed in their way by providing humour and laughter during these trying times!
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: A lot of lower-income people were starving on the streets and the Thai people have been donating thousands of food boxes to sustain their lives. That was such an inspiration to me as a human being. A will to live on both sides of the society.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Many things. The slow down allows us to sit back and relook in many aspects, from design, delivery of design and our professional service, to the business itself. It allows us to re-focus to only things that matter and filter out the unnecessary noises that we picked up along the years.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: I am inspired by the leadership shown by many of the female leaders of the world, such as Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel. They have shown how keeping a cool head, being efficient, detailed and fast moving, is key in mitigating a crisis.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: It is easy to do well in good times. I would like to think that tough times bring out the best in me. It separates the doers from the talkers.
11. WHAT POSITIVE OUTCOME WILL COME OUT OF THIS CRISIS?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: The world will have got a chance to heal itself for one, there will be more trees, more oxygen, less pollution, cleaner rivers and oceans and if there is anything I wish we have learnt is to respect mother-nature and realise our inter-dependency and how connected we are. Hopefully, there will still be ways to run businesses without travelling so much with new technologies that will sprout out from this pandemic and we become more discerning in protecting our planet and all its inhabitants.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: We learn more of who we are and what we are really capable of, to help each other in such a difficult time – maintaining the human element within the society.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Efficiency, preparedness and digital technologies in delivering our design and professional services.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: I hope that it will remind the different regions of the world that we are all one interconnected people – we have to work together to ensure these universal challenges do not defeat us and try to achieve more for the collective good.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: Unfortunately, we tend to forget the lessons taught to us by history. There are many important lessons to be learned during this time, so I believe we should memorialize them. I think it would be a good idea to dedicate a day every month where we all stay home with family with no cars on the road, no lights in the sky, in silent respect and solidarity for those who have suffered and for nature and ourselves to heal.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: We will learn to be leaner, smarter and drop all the excess baggage.
12. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ONCE THE SITUATION SETTLES DOWN?
Ar Melvyn Kanny, MJ Kanny Architect: Having a drink with friends and celebrating our freedom to move around again and going up my hiking trails at Bukit Gasing which I have missed so much.
Duangrit Bunnag, Duangrit Bunnag Architect Limited: Open my businesses back to normal so we will be able to fully support all of our staffs at all levels.
Ar Masyerin M Nor, Domaine Architects: Of course to physically meet people and visit our ongoing project sites. Yes, digital communications can be effective, but only if we cant meet. After all, as human, and we are social creatures that enjoy the warmth company of each other.
Katharine Pooley, Katharine Pooley Ltd: On a personal level I can’t wait to see my 85-year-old father and give him a hug. Although work is remarkably unaffected, and god willing this will continue to be the case, this is a tough time for families everywhere as we miss those we cannot see and touch.
Ar Rafiq Azam, SHATOTTO: Honestly speaking, before this pandemic even began, the world was already in pandemonium. In the name of globalization, we globalized economic disparity, disrespect, distrust, wars, armaments and so on. Hopefully, after this pandemic is over, the world will be able to put itself in order. Hopefully, the world will raise provocative questions against the development of false crises to create propaganda and further secret agendas. I hope for a better, more sensitive, and humane world. I hope to see better use of technology and improved human-to-human and human-to-nature relations.
Ar Dr Tan Loke Mun, DTLM Design Group: I took on the directorship for the Kuala Lumpur Architectural Festival (KLAF) for 2019 and 2020 to help promote professional and social networking. Social distancing was not in our plans! I have always enjoyed interacting with friends and associates to exchange ideas and to spin a yarn. A nice cold beer helps too.