(RE)THINK – Post Corona Visions
Founder of DSGN Kartell, a multidisciplinary design studio, as well as co-founder and sustainable design consultant for the Green Building Institute Australia (GBI), Ronny Matzat, shares his visions of a post-corona world from an Architect's perspective.
By Ronny Matzat
Major societal changes and political upheavals in the history of mankind have always pushed and challenged, but also developed society and architecture. It will be the same this time around – before, during and post Corona.
We architects must take responsibility for ensuring the world does not abolish itself, but rather develop and enrich itself through new realizations and innovations.
Historically, architects have always been pioneers and innovators. Unfortunately, with very few exceptions, we have increasingly neglected and lost this pioneering spirit. Like many other industries, we have become more and more committed to profit and adapted to the fast pace dictated by the system. I would even go as far as to say that we as architects and designers have betrayed our craft to a degree. In the past 30 years in particular, we have endeavored to be system-relevant (my personal hate word) rather than to go our own, innovative ways.
In the recent weeks we have seen how fragile this world is in which we live and which we help to shape. We feel how difficult it is to be physically isolated, missing communities and social contexts. In isolation, we realize what it means when space is planned and built for profit and not for people. Feel-good factor low to non-existent; Cramped; dark; little to no natural air; tiny windows; view – well; balcony – maybe; garden – mostly not.
Any positives? Yes, there will be a “post Corona”. What will or can this “post Corona” look like?
Canadian professor Thomas Homer-Dixon writes: “Today’s emerging pandemic could help catalyze an urgently needed tipping event in humanity’s collective moral values, priorities and sense of self and community. It could remind us of our common fate on a small, crowded planet with dwindling resources and fraying natural systems.”
Can we therefore assume that it will be more important to see and think more complex in the future? Long term rather than short term? Will we perhaps have to take greater personal responsibility in the future if we create infrastructure, cities, landscapes and buildings?
The job as an architect is to shape the cultural heritage of the future and we should do so by planning for more than profit and short-term fame. As architects, we have a personal responsibility in designing and planning our common future, especially in times like these. I am sure, after Corona, the connection and importance of architecture to people will be even more important, simply because the importance of communities is much more crucial these days than it was before.
The world is connected. People are connected. The connections are complex. Architecture alone is no longer sufficient. It takes more. It takes a new way to design and build – contemporary, innovative and holistic. It can only be achieved, if we manage to solve the current corona challenges together. Together, through honest collaboration and essential rethinking.
Politicians these days are bombarded with questions about how and when we can get back on track to “before Corona” times. Economists already talk about the “coming recovery” in response. I believe sometimes it is necessary to rephrase a question in order to find answers.
Therefore, just think about the post Corona time NOT only being about recovery and how we can get our money, old life and our old priorities back. Let’s consider how we can initiate and implement the necessary “rethinking” in a meaningful way.
It is certain that the current situation provides all of us with the unique opportunity to rethink priorities and the system as a whole in order to implement the necessary changes for post Corona times. It is up to us as a community whether and how we use this opportunity or not. So, I encourage you to start talking and discussing openly about how WE want to live, love and work together post Corona.
Let the teachings of Corona be the driver for a rethinking based on new responsible humanitarian and climatic contexts. A rethinking, whereby architects can make a significant contribution to the realization of our common future.
About Ronny Matzat
Ronny is an internationally trained, fully qualified architect and a registered member with the Danish Association of Architects. Born in former East Germany, where “sustainability” was a necessity to survive, educated in architecture, engineering and financial planning in Germany and Australia, finetuned in Denmark and now based in Brisbane and the Philippines – Ronny is a true global citizen and creative superhero.
Architect, product designer, educator, sustainability advocate, businessman, artist, photographer – Ronny is wearing many hats (literally). At the core of his work is a dedication/ passion to create a different way to design and build. A way that reflects us as individuals and our ever-evolving way of living, which reconnects us with nature by combining simplified, yet aesthetic architecture with hands on street smartness.
Ronny is the founder of DSGN Kartell, a multidisciplinary design studio, as well as a co-founder and sustainable design consultant for the Green Building Institute Australia (GBI). As his very latest business endeavour Ronny co-founded biolastics, a company set up to transform today’s plastic industry into a sustainable domain.