Review BAU ONLINE: Ready for change - The construction industry after the coronavirus

Almost all industries have been strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How will things continue afterwards and what are the pandemic’s consequences? Our author Melanie Schlegel summarizes the kick-off discussion at BAU ONLINE.

The “Future of Building” forum was kicked off by the plot “The construction industry after the coronavirus”. Moderated by Bauwelt editor-in-chief Boris Schade-Bünsow, the invited industry experts reported on their latest experiences from the crisis and shared their assessments for the time after.

In his presentation, Dieter Babiel, Managing Director of the Central Federation of the German Construction Industry, emphasized the importance of digitalization, especially regarding the innovation potential for start-ups. To continue to navigate the crisis well and maintain the construction industry’s performance capacity, it is necessary to promote start-ups, because, according to Babiel, these are the driving force for growth and competition.

To highlight the general planning perspective, ten managing directors of agn Niederberghaus & Partner GmbH shared their views. Since more attention is paid to the essentials and due to the digital exchange, in particular the quality of the coordination processes has increased in planning. And, in terms of content, the planners anticipate further changes—especially in the construction of educational, healthcare or office buildings. Example: in office planning, they hypothesize that less space will be needed for individual workstations, but more space for small film and sound studios. For all building types, the pandemic increased the demand for good building services with controlled indoor ventilation.

Magnus Nickl spoke about changes in hospital construction. The architect and chairman of Nickl und Partner—one of the world's largest hospital planners—described how and why healthcare buildings need to be completely reconceptualized. Nickl outlined visions of the future of hospital construction with wider corridors, route separations, single rooms, direct access to the nature, and much more. With regard to crises, architecture needs to ensure fast, flexible and efficient solutions, he said, presenting the specially designed “pocket hospitals” as a best-practice example. These modular houses can be built and adapted quickly thanks to prefabrication and lightweight construction.

So, there is much know-how available to get through the crisis well! With the necessary investments, about which Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy spoke in his welcoming address, the construction industry should optimistically look forward to a post-coronavirus era.