How have crises and epidemics affected architecture and the approach to construction? | Parametrica architectural bureau

How have crises and epidemics affected architecture and the approach to construction?

What is happening now in the architecture of new districts (COTs)? Why are they not functional? And what’s so good about them?

Urban planning is, first of all, a masterplan, and not just the pursuit of developers for TEPs and the number of square meters introduced by the local administration. If we build neighborhoods where comfort ends at the door of the owner’s apartment, then we often see examples of how such buildings quickly turn into a low-quality urban environment. This approach does not activate the new urban area in a social sense. The master plan should take into account the interests of many parties, and not just the administration and the developer. A more competent approach is environmental architecture, the formation of city functions in new microdistricts so that people do not have the desire and needs to leave their cozy area.

In connection with the pandemic, more and more people are beginning to understand that during periods of epidemics there should be self-sufficiency – in an apartment, in a neighborhood. And this coincides with the values ​​of comfortable multifunctional microdistricts. A modern educated city dweller needs access to culture, sports, recreation, services, a workplace – within the radius of his district. A man doesn’t have to cross half a city to get what he needs.

Again, the crisis will force developers to save on many things: from investments in architectural and planning solutions to the maximum reduction in costs for facades, finishing common areas, landscaping, etc. Cities can see “Frankenstein monsters” when normal projects become bad after cost cuts by the developer. Thus, the reputation of these developers will be under attack – the quality of their product in the eyes of the townspeople will fall significantly. At the same time, we know that those who nevertheless approached the complex optimization of projects wisely, preserved, and in some ways even improved the product, emerged from the crisis even with stronger positions. The high-quality environment created by developers in their developments has been and remains the main driver of their future sales.

Now it is important for the developer to reconsider the apartment layout of future projects in terms of functionality and self-sufficiency of spaces. An apartment is no longer just to sleep, it is to live in it. It is the same with district planning: it is no longer always possible to use the city, it is necessary to focus on the nearest territory. The large outflow from offices, provoked by the pandemic, has strengthened the trend of automation and remoteness, and the world is unlikely to want to return to the previous formats completely. We are talking about creating clusters in microdistricts, with the possibility of locating state-owned companies and co-working spaces in commercial premises, in the districts – a full-fledged infrastructure, in apartments to provide not only a recreation function, but also a working area.

What problems do architects have when designing new urban areas? What norms hinder the construction of convenient cities?

The main problem, in my opinion, is that there are no high-quality strategies for the development of transport in Russian cities, except for Moscow. Now the client has to pay extra money for the fact that the developer is obliged to build a certain number of parking spaces in the area, per apartment. We see in world practice that with the automation of car use systems (car sharing) and the development of high-quality, comfortable urban transport, vast territories in residential areas remain free. These territories could be occupied by parks, recreation areas, sports and playgrounds, and not rolled into asphalt for parking.

The parking strategy, in accordance with the regulations, obliges developers to build parking lots, but the client is not ready to pay for them. The cost of a place in underground or free-standing parking lots is often equal to the cost of the car itself. Since they are expensive to build and are not in demand, the developer places parking on the ground, so asphalt fields appear around the residential complexes, instead of a park. A more subtle consideration of this issue in the long term would make our cities different, more comfortable for life. It is possible to rethink parking requirements when the city invests in public transport. Traveling in a modern, air-conditioned bus with comfortable seating should be more inviting than driving your own car. This cannot be done by a developer, it is a function of the city. The organization of transport hubs, convenient, warm, safe stops, routes and regularity of public transport is all the responsibility of the city administration. By unloading the city from private vehicles, we improve the quality of the city, and this is done by European and American cities.

There is also a sanitary protection zone near the parking lot; it should not be located close to recreational areas. In addition to the parking itself, the place is occupied by the exclusion zone from it, where there can be no recreational zones.

Will it be relevant in 20-50 years?

More than! In 20 years, a well-organized transport strategy of the city can provide several options, among which are the most convenient public transport and high-quality car sharing, where one car can have up to 200 users per month, and not every person has his own car in the parking lot, a total of 200 cars, that hinder the life of the city. In this perspective, trips by car without a driver can already be legitimized, when a city dweller can choose the tariff and class of car he needs by subscription, and not take it into his own. This machine, the moving capsule, will work continuously. Cars will transport people not only in the morning and in the evening, they will not stand in parking lots for days. Such a verified system will change even the air in our cities.

In the future, parking and a personal car may become an attribute of the Deluxe class. Public transport should be focused on the comfort of the city dweller. And the asphalt fields of parking lots will become walking areas and playgrounds.

To what extent can standard design save the project budget and time for preparation and erection? Why did the construction ministers start talking about him again? Should we expect that the standard facilities that are being built now will be as inconvenient as the Soviet ones?

Typical design on automated software can allow you to prepare a project in 1 day, instead of 9 months. We are currently testing one of these technologies. Further, standard design is the only way to work with the development product improvement.

The main housing in our country is the Standard class, on the example of the automotive industry – Ford. So, in the automotive industry, from the first version of Ford, then today’s cars have gone through thousands of iterations, and all on the same platform. Customization of a particular model does not occur from scratch, a new series does not reinvent the car every time. Optional improvements are made on the basis of the developed platform, which is being improved and developed. An automaker never reassembles a new car with new people. The developer should also have this: a product standard (master plan, layouts, landscaping, etc.), based on the values ​​of its development, which develops with the times. Typical does not mean uniform. The development of technologies and materials, customization of projects based on a high-quality platform is a more rational way. You can update the facades from project to project, but keep the high-quality platform of the house. This will allow developers to manage the cost of projects, which is still rare, and predict profitability. This approach, among other things, makes it possible to significantly optimize the costs of the project department and the timing of project preparation, which will positively affect the financial model.

Should the builder have a recognizable handwriting, or will these same identical houses repeat the history of Khrushchev in time?

Handwriting as a quality standard is essential. But if we are talking about the aesthetic characteristics of architecture, then the facades and visual design codes of residential complexes can be worked out from project to project, introducing the individuality of authorship.

What, in fact, is bad in Khrushchev now? And how do new buildings differ from them? How have building standards changed since then?

Khrushchevs were built along with the construction of communism, they did not take into account capitalist tendencies, private property. Khrushchev houses do not have yards, this is a passageway open to cars. In such developments, there is no hierarchy of functional spaces for residents – everything is in one field, a mess of parking lots, driveways, playgrounds, carpet-beating beams and old dendrology. In the era of scarcity, no one thought about where the tenants of the apartments would store off-season things, no one suspected that the owners would have so much good. These houses are surrounded by a standard set of schools and kindergartens. Now it is necessary to develop small businesses and create a full-fledged urban infrastructure, social, commercial, and service sectors – in every district. Among the advantages of Khrushchev is the population density.

Putin demanded that the ministers rid the construction of unnecessary “SNiP-wheezes”. The ministers have already begun to work on this, they report that it is possible to reduce the number of required documents by 30%, but it is necessary to introduce the procedure of “investment justification”. Is it really something that would help grow efficiently and work quickly?

SNIPs, for the most part, are based on reference projects, but do not correspond to current realities. But, on the other hand, SNIPs are laws that you can appeal to and quickly design based on them. If we remove the laws, we will have to form some kind of committees each time, which will recalculate each project from scratch in order to agree on it. This will greatly increase the time for passing the examination and its cost. SNIPs should turn into some kind of continuously updated standard, as in the IT field, a programming code that can be developed through R&D from custom projects (business, premium), because they can afford to research new technologies and materials. SNIPs should be a validated construction standard both from the point of view of state experts (reliability of structures), and users (comfort for residents), and investors (economic feasibility). This should be constantly worked on by the development team. If ready-made series are used, then release the project from passing the examination, because the house fully complies with the already developed standards. One of the problems with SNIPs is that many of them contradict each other and are based on old district planning practices.

How would you call the modern period (since the 2010s) in construction besides the “putinki”?

I cannot give it an unambiguous name, because a lot happened during this period. There was a “fat market” when rather comfortable houses were built with large apartments and expensive facades. There were crises when some developers stopped fulfilling their obligations, while others “cut” floors into studios and reduced investment in construction. Someone discounted and doomed themselves to a margin deficit. Successfully emerged from crises those who maintained a reputation and a fairly good quality of the product. It was a dynamic period of product and developer evolution.

What forecasts can be made for the next five to ten years? What will be given special attention when designing large microdistricts?

Full-fledged mini-cities with working clusters will begin to form. Apartments and quarters will be more filled with features for residents. There needs to be a fundamental rethinking of the city’s transport strategies. Particularly advantageous positions will be those who go into the industrialization of development (block housing construction), which will allow building faster and better, because the rooms will be assembled in the factory, and not on the construction site. Standardization, industrialization, automation: a developer can already become an IT company.

How do crises affect architecture?

Often, unfortunately, the crisis leads to a stupid reduction in the cost of projects, and not to a comprehensive optimization of development processes. It is better to adapt to the crisis by deliberately reviewing the entire process of creating a product and its value for the client.

(‍Based on the article “How the crisis and Covid-19 will turn the real estate market and the construction industry upside down” on the portal: