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NEW LEAF, NEW DRIFT

A Review of Architecture Trends in 2021

The year 2021 (much like 2020) has fundamentally changed not just our health crisis, but our lifestyle, spatial routines, and our design preferences. With the year coming to an end, we gathered some of the nation’s vanguards in the field of architecture to help us review architecture trends in 2021. We’ll review how some trends have helped us live less abnormal lives and how the others questioned well established ideas in architecture and design. In doing these design retrospectives, we salute trends and their pioneers for helping us navigate through the pandemic and propel us to come up with new ones to prepare us for the coming years.


ASEANA Parqal Courtyard


The greatest casualty of the pandemic is our social bond and community relationship. I look forward to seeing people socializing with others in environments with more breathing space, fewer acrylic dividers, and zero face shields!

ASEANA Parqal Balcony


Together, Apart: RMG and Social Reconnection through Architecture

Which among the design trends and practices that emerged during the pandemic would you like to keep practicing for 2022?


Our experience of social isolation will lead to an even more pronounced focus on wellness and longing for connections to nature. Architects will increasingly consider how homes, offices, and other environments can promote well-being by incorporating elements of nature and providing open green spaces. It would be good to see more designs in high-traffic environments like offices, retail, and multifamily buildings that integrate touchless technology features to reduce the transfer of germs via surface contact. Think of automatic doors, voice-activated elevators, voice-controlled temperature control, automated sinks, sensor activated faucets. I also look forward to seeing more prefabricated materials with antimicrobial properties in the market.


Which among the design trends and practices that emerged during the pandemic would you like to drop for 2022?

The pandemic has reshaped our personal relationships, forcing us to live closer together with some people and further apart from others. It brought us closer to our families but isolated us from the wider community. The greatest casualty of the pandemic is our social bond and community relationship. I look forward to seeing people socializing with others in environments with more breathing space, fewer acrylic dividers, and zero face shields!


ASEANA Parqal Aerial


ASEANA Parqal Amphitheater


Which among the design trends and practices that came about because of the pandemic would you like to improve on for 2022?


Increased personal space in public spaces and reduced occupant loads. In restaurants, theaters, and other places of assembly, seating layouts will likely become much more spacious. We used to design public spaces for a certain number of people within a certain number of square meters. Now, we are starting to rethink those standards and how people will really behave in public settings post-pandemic. We have to study how to do that more efficiently. If we are to live with the coronavirus for a longer time, we need to redesign our prison-like isolation spaces and make them more habitable for people in quarantine.


What are the architectural trends in your field of expertise in the coming year 2022?


For commercial spaces like malls, cinemas, supermarkets, theaters, and restaurants, all of which were hardly hit, occupancy rate is now down to one-third of their designed capacity. With online shopping at its peak, we’re seeing the emergence of logistics hubs similar to CapitaLand’s SingPost Centre in Singapore. Retail developers can benefit from logistics hubs because virtual shopping spaces are rent-free! They only need to rent storage space or build their own logistics hub outside the city center where land values are affordable. They could still maintain a presence in malls where consumers could browse in-store, purchase the product, and arrange for delivery of the product directly to their home. Fulfillment is done at the backend of the warehouse so the developers get to save on rentable space for storage.


For offices, the open space planning trend will take a backseat. Office cubicles and partitions may make a comeback. Working from home will now be a common practice resulting in reduced office sizes. The reception area, an important location where visitors get their first glimpse of the office culture, will now be used as a health-screening checkpoint. Here, visitors and employees alike could undergo testing or other procedures to ensure they are well enough to come in. They will most likely include secure areas for contactless delivery of packages. Conference rooms, where whole teams of workers routinely crammed into for regular meetings, will have stricter occupancy requirements with more employees dialing in virtually.


People will seek to carve out their own private outdoor space—balcony, patio, garden, or fully landscaped backyard— and many will look to designers to create these fresh-air havens. Life will change in some way after the pandemic subsides. Everything from travel to work arrangements will be altered. The same is true for architecture and design.

How are you planning to apply these in your current or future projects?


In mixed-use condominiums, we are now pushing for roof deck spaces with greenery. People will seek to carve out their own private outdoor space—balcony, patio, garden, or fully landscaped backyard—and many will look to designers to create these fresh-air havens. Life will change in some way after the pandemic subsides. Everything from travel to work arrangements will be altered. The same is true for

architecture and design. The pandemic opens an opportunity to rethink everything—how we design and build homes, offices, cities and communities to be even more resilient, healthy, beautiful, green, and creative. As architects, we can ideate and advocate for a future where the world is in harmony with nature. It’s an opportunity to make spaces healthier and more beautiful.


Decentralizing Distance: Louwie Gan and Revamping Urban Infrastructure


Which among the design trends and practices that emerged during the pandemic

would you like to keep practicing for 2022?


The Covid-19 pandemic had some impact on architecture and urban planning, particularly on design trends that emerged during this time. These trends and practices that emerged recall traditional design practices that have been forgotten in today's modern culture. First, establishments were required to have proper ventilation to flush away stale air and the accumulation of viruses. Second, access to views and sunlight has become critical to people's health and wellbeing, as many are stuck at home as an effort to avoid infection. Third, it became obvious that people needed access to public open spaces and bicycle infrastructure, features that became important to many during the pandemic. Lastly, it became apparent that large architectural buildings like big box malls are not designed to allow access to open spaces.


Which among the design trends and practices that emerged during the pandemic

would you like to drop for 2022?


Social distancing is defined as reducing human interactions and physical contact. However, human behavior evolved as we socially aggregated with one another. Social distancing can be connected to disinterest and a perceived lack of intimacy, which can manifest as a reluctance to interact with others in extended or casual settings. As an urban designer, I design communities that encourage people to interact with each other. Most successful cities are those with people hanging out and experiencing the outdoor environment while getting to know each other. Social distancing will not achieve those benefits in the long term and should be dropped after this pandemic.



Decentralizing cities through outmigration became apparent because people avoid crowded places to avoid infection and due to work from home setup by companies. However, decentralizing the population would further encourage urban sprawl, and we would have many natural areas converted to human habitation. This encroachment of natural areas is the main reason COVID spread in the first place, so decentralizing cities should be balanced in order to avoid the same situation, to further protect the natural environment, and to maximize economies of scale of compact cities.


Which among the design trends and practices that came about because of the pandemic would you like to improve on for 2022?


Bicycle lanes popped out all over the country, allowing people to get from point A to point B without having to worry about getting sick. Bicycle infrastructure should be integrated in the building design and mandated by building code. Imagine having shower facilities for public buildings (offices) and bicycle secured parking spaces to encourage more people to use bicycles for transport.. Open spaces should be provided and accessible to all communities within a 5-minute walk distance. This will encourage physical activity that will protect people from lifestyle-related diseases and improve mental health and wellbeing. Open spaces also encourage urban farming that can provide good nutrition to the urban population while being less dependent on nearby provinces for food supply.


To spur street life and economic growth for the community, restaurants started using open-air spaces for dining. This was realized during the pandemic since IATF only set requirements for seating space percentages for the indoors. But more than giving access to open air, streets should be improved to enhance the pedestrian experience. Walking on sidewalks should be more interesting, encouraging people to walk and visit different stores. In short, by mandating the design standards of the street space, you make the pedestrian experience more engaging, and you give people an opportunity to tell their own city stories and share cherished memories.


What are the architectural trends in your field of expertise in the coming year 2022?


Nature-based disciplines such as Biophilia and Biomimicry will be the architectural trends in 2022 or after the pandemic. We’ve seen the failures of our current community design where buildings do not have access or views of open spaces which were badly needed during the pandemic. Through Biomimicry principles in architectural design, we could provide a building that functions based on the principles of life found in the natural environment.


How are you planning to apply these in your current or future projects?


One project where I incorporated nature’s principle in design is the Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Center (MBCC). The building featured principles that have been adapted into architectural design, including resource efficiency, where local materials were used to leverage passive designs in reducing power consumption. The design is also multi-functional to accommodate program changes in the

building’s future requirements. Furthermore, the building form is fitted to function based on need without waste of space and resources. These are just some of nature’s principles that were integrated into the MBCC that resulted in this project to be green certified by EDGE and the World Bank International Finance Corporation.


Nature-based disciplines such as Biophilia and Biomimicry will be the architectural trends in 2022 or after the pandemic. We’ve seen the failures of our current community design where buildings do not have access or views of open spaces which were badly needed during the pandemic.

The Better Normal: Budji+Royal Pineda and the Architecture of Pandemic Readiness


Which among the design trends and practices that emerged during the pandemic would you like to keep practicing for 2022?


The work from home (WFH) setup and the limited work capacity or the number of people physically present in the office are notable. The square meter ratio per person requirement allowed 70% of our staff to work from home, leaving 30% working in the office. This enabled us to have luxury of space and provided a very conducive atmosphere to work without compromising operations. I want to keep this system, with key people closely working with Budji and me in the office to help things run, cascading tasks to the WFH team.


The pandemic did not give us any chance or any choice but to be productive. Before, we had to travel to the office to foster productivity. During the lockdowns, we had to find ways to become productive remotely.


Zoom, Google Meet, and the like are good tools that gave us the ability to operate in the New Normal. Before, meetings had to be held in person, with phone calls and Skype considered informal gestures. Now you can meet someone without the time consuming need to travel to a place. Through embracing technology, our company gained the ability to connect with more people. The pandemic gave us this spare bullet when things get restrictive.



Which among the design trends and practices that emerged during the pandemic would you like to drop for 2022?


Doing things completely over Zoom was a valuable option. However, in-person interactions are more personalized and engaging as they bring you to the moment of conversation, where connection is deeper and quite important Virtual site visits work when managed by a very good PM, but the multi-sensory experience of being on-site cannot be replaced by the virtual space. But at least the choice is still available when it is unsafe to go on-site.


Which among the design trends and practices that came about because of the pandemic would you like to improve on for 2022?


We want to continually evolve and improve upon the permeability of our Modern Filipino Architecture and Design. Our homes have always been pandemic ready. MFAD has always brought in natural

UV sanitizing light, breezes and cross-ventilation, and seamlessly merged the indoors and outdoors. With all the other things the pandemic has put forth in terms of safety and isolation, an in-depth understanding of the science to contain spread and infection is essential, especially if one household member tests positive. Upgrading and creating physical separation of zones are a must. In the absence of air conditioning, we have the option of working al fresco, to encourage better ventilation. We must observe how we address the challenge of the virus to change our lives via positive design solutions. We must look at this problem innovatively, to leverage not just a New, but a Better Normal.


As society has normalized working from home, we now have to look at the challenges brought about by this atmosphere. Bigger homes can circumvent this issue, but average-sized dwellings can find the setup difficult, especially if you've a household with two adults with children. If the house has no Wi-Fi or internet connection, however, going to the office is mandatory. Distraction issues need to be addressed, especially if you are in the middle of a meeting. The house's layout needs to be constantly improved, allowing at-home workers to find their nook.


In a way, new standards in architecture and design will be protective and defensive.

What are the architectural trends in your field of expertise in the coming year 2022?


People will consciously look for healthy homes or spaces that will address lifestyle changes. With the pandemic limiting our mobility through lockdowns, people are looking for their freedom. And they're finding it in nature. There is a resurgence for appreciating nature and its beneficial effects on our total well-being. In a way, new standards in architecture and design will be protective and defensive. The

concept of zoning will also take into account the possibility of a pandemic recurrence. More design products will be nature sensitive and will relate to health and wellness. Starting with material selection, products will start with basic permeability but will

continue to improve and raise the bar.


How are you planning to apply these in your current or future projects?


All our projects have always been permeable and nature-oriented, like one of the homes we developed in Punta Fuego. The Clark International Airport is also pandemic ready, with natural UV light bathing the place with open areas provided for well wishers to enjoy. On the technological side of things, the airport is fully-equipped with state-of-the-art contactless systems and other strict measures to ensure passenger safety and comfort. Architecture's natural creativity will address problems as they come. As architects, we will always have the vision to create and design new, better, more effective solutions. As we continually level up, we cannot say one design will solve everything. As the situation develops, we will evolve, ready to provide good design.


Architecture's natural creativity will address problems as they come. As architects, we will always have the vision to create and design new, better, more effective solutions. As we continually level up, we cannot say one design will solve everything. As the situation develops, we will evolve, ready to provide good design.