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Interview, Corona, hirner und riehl architekten

Mastering the challenges: How hirner & riehl architekten are dealing with the coronavirus crisis

How are you handling the coronavirus crisis?
Melanie Wenderlein: Like everyone else, the coronavirus has taken a lot out of us. Emotionally and organizationally, the past weeks have been a big challenge. It hasn’t been easy to fill the gaps between working life, government recommendations and the restrictions on going out. Oh, we‘ve spent a lot of time talking about this.

How has the routine changed in your office?
Our office routine hasn’t changed. We treat each other with respect and care, and we have tried to make possible a routine that we can maintain for a while. Some of our employees, particularly parents, are working from home. This has reduced the number of employees in the office, but not greatly. Since we work over two storeys, we have “isolated” the team on each level until further notice. If a quarantine case emerges - hopefully it won’t - then the people from the affected level can switch to working from home. It’s funny to see people trying to keep the recommended distance from each other. It can lead to some rather entertaining “corona contortions”…

Are your projects continuing?
Yes, fortunately our projects have continued. Communicating with people involved in planning and our clients has shifted completely to video conferences - even across borders with other countries. Depending on the quality of the internet connection, it works well sometimes and not so well other times. Of course, there has been a bit of friction - having so many planning partners switch to home office, and setting up the new communication paths, took time. But we are all getting better at it … you just have to pay close attention to when the cameras and microphones are on. I always stick a Post-it over my camera after meetings …

Do you have any plans for the time after the quarantine?
Washing our hands … no, really, we want things to continue as much as possible the way they were before coronavirus - having fun at work and creating good architecture in close collaboration! And we want to critically question whether so many on-site meetings with clients and specialist planners are always necessary, or whether we could save time and be more environment-friendly by communicating via video conference. We are all surprised at what the new media have made possible!

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