Keep positive: How Holzer Kobler Architekturen are working in the time of the coronavirus pandemic
Architects: Holzer Kober Architekturen, Zürich (CH) und Berlin (DE)
How has the routine changed in your office?
We’ve experienced various phases since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. When the lockdown came, all our employees immediately started working from home. We communicated via the many available audio(visual) tools, testing their advantages and disadvantages. However, they could not completely replace the spontaneous conversations and direct exchanges. In the loosening-up phase of the lockdown, we followed government regulations as we moved back into the office and worked in two separate shifts. Now we’re in the third phase, and we are trying a new arrangement of our office spaces. Meeting rooms and workshops are being repurposed as workspaces in order to ensure the required spatial distance so that everyone can again work together in the office at the same time.
How are you handling the coronavirus crisis − are your projects continuing?
Three scenarios have crystallized from the pandemic. Some projects are rock-solid: they are immune to all the COVID regulations and actions. This means they will make it through the crisis more or less unscathed. Other projects are at a standstill. We’re sure those ones will get going again and, despite slight delays, will end well. A few projects seem to have disappeared into the ether; we don’t know whether they will ever return.
Do you have any tips for your colleagues?
It’s important not to let ourselves be negatively influenced by all the unimaginable things the coronavirus crisis has brought with it and will continue to bring with it. Rather, we must maintain a sense of openness. Recently, a sign on a road to Zurich still read: “Please stay home!” Now it reads “Caution: deer crossing”. We should notice these little everyday absurdities and take joy in them.
Do you have any plans for the time after the quarantine?
Even before COVID, we had been giving thought to our team’s frequent travel in terms of saving time, sustainability and the well-being of our employees. We had also considered changes to our project processes. The temporary travel reduction − to essentially none − caused by the lockdown meant that all at once, we were forced to try new ways of working. It turns out that there are many alternatives and that we can come up with flexible, dynamic and lasting responses to seemingly immutable or established structures. Working processes are now becoming possible that we hadn’t previously considered. In addition, we have again seen that the focus on sustainable building, planning affordable living space and the role of care work − subjects we have been thinking about for a long time and that have taken on new currency in the crisis − are vital to the development and realization of our projects.