As part of our commitment to keeping architects connected across the world during this extraordinary time, the Australian Institute of Architects has invited some of its International Chapter members to share their experience of living and working abroad in a time of pandemic. Natalie Ward of Kerry Hill Architects is currently self-isolating in her apartment overlooking central Singapore, where she is balancing working remotely with remote schooling her seven year old daughter and taking her overly excitable puppy on frequent neighbourhood walks.
A recent spike in local cases prompted the Singapore Government to introduce a ‘circuit breaker period’ to contain the spread of the virus. From 4 May to 1 June, all non-essential workers must telecommute, schools are closed and people are advised to only leave their homes for essential shopping or exercise.
Following the emergence of virus clusters in dormitories housing foreign construction workers, all non-essential construction has also been suspended. Despite Government support, many architecture firms are experiencing a loss of income due to projects being put on hold, with some undergoing multiple rounds of layoffs.
The transition to working from home combined with strict travel restrictions is also impacting how we work. This week I attended a site meeting in another country by video-conference, which previously would have involved two international flights and several hours of travel.
If there is one positive outcome from this difficult time, it might be that architects find more efficient and sustainable ways to work on international projects.
Natalie Ward is a registered NSW architect with nearly 20 years’ experience on award winning projects in Australia and overseas. Since joining Kerry Hill Architects in 2016 she has worked on major projects across Asia, with a particular focus on high end residential, commercial and hotel projects in China and Indonesia. She is currently a Chapter Councilor with the International Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects and has previously participated as a jury member for the 2018 International Chapter Awards and as a regular contributor to Australian design journals.