Our expertise, experience and enthusiasm extend across our offices in the UK, Germany and China. We asked our colleague in Germany, Rithvika Bhandary, about her work, priorities as an architect and Chetwoods experience, as well as her thoughts about today’s key challenges and opportunities for the architectural profession in Germany.
How has logistics architecture changed in Germany over the past few years?
Over the past few decades, logistics architecture in Germany has undergone significant changes in response to advances in technology, globalisation, and changing consumer demands. As the logistics industry continues to evolve, we expect to see further innovations in areas such as automation, sustainability, and customised logistics solutions.
We all acknowledge the importance of industrialisation in Germany, which contributes significantly to the national annual revenue. Industrialisation and logistics go hand in hand, and with the help of German technology and the country’s strong sustainability policy, there has been a significant change in mindset. Currently, the highest priority is given not only to functionality but also to aesthetics and sustainability factors, which help improve the life cycle of the buildings.
Developers are now turning to architects to develop designs that will not only function effectively but also be visually appealing in the long term, making a positive impact on the areas in which they are located. There is a greater focus on sustainability, with increased importance being placed on the materials used, façades, and social elements in the design. This holistic approach ensures the overall wellbeing of the people who use these facilities, those living around them, and even those passing by on the famous German autobahn.
I believe that in recent years perceptions of Germany’s architectural industry have also changed in the wider world, with the shift in priorities mentioned above shaping the image of the whole country in a positive way in the longer-term. If authorities and the construction sector can continue paying attention to these shifts, and with fine tuning with regard to regulations and choices, progress can only be positive.
What areas of design do you find most interesting and exciting?
A key area of design that interests me is sustainability. In today’s world, sustainable design has become more critical than ever. As the world faces the consequences of climate change, it is imperative for designers to adopt a more sustainable approach to their work, considering the environmental impact of materials, energy use, and waste reduction throughout the design process.
As an architect, I have implemented green roofs, green walls, and passive solar designs in our logistics projects. This area of design is particularly interesting because with new technological advancements such as AI and energy-efficient technology, architects can make a conscious effort to integrate these systems into our designs at an early stage to not only increase a building’s operational efficiency but also enhance the design and construction processes.
What has the impact of technology been on the profession?
Technology has revolutionised the design process, making it faster, more efficient, and more precise. From computer-aided design (CAD) to virtual reality (VR), designers have been enabled to visualise and manipulate their ideas in ways that were previously impossible. I have seen examples of how augmented reality and artificial intelligence (AI) are making their way into design processes, providing new tools for designers to explore. I believe that technology will continue to shape the design industry in ways that we cannot yet imagine.
Regarding our specialist expertise and experience in logistics architecture, as architects at Chetwoods we stay updated with the latest technology available in the market. Some key areas include route optimisation, warehouse automation, sensor technology, and – last but not least – renewable energy integration. By leveraging these technologies, we can make significant strides towards achieving sustainability by reducing carbon emissions, optimising resource utilisation, and minimising environmental impact.
How is new technology impacting the way you work at Chetwoods?
At Chetwoods, we consistently share knowledge among ourselves and with experts, such as our Thrive team of sustainability specialists. This collaborative approach facilitates thorough due diligence before any project commences, ensuring that we incorporate the latest sustainable practices and technologies into our designs.
Our Works team, in collaboration with the University of Wolverhampton, and with research advice from the University of Cambridge, has developed a new methodology that combines different technologies in an innovative way to create digital twin formats that facilitate the transformation of a Circular Economy into a Circular Lifestyle.
This novel application of digital technologies to streamline the design, deconstruction and reconstruction processes has been recognised with several awards, including winner of ‘Best Digital Transformation’ at the Digital Construction Live Awards, and shortlistings for the AJ100 ‘Innovation of the Year 2023’, and the London Construction Awards ‘Technological Innovation of the Year’.
Is there a role for art in architectural design?
I am inspired by the potential for incorporating art into architectural design across all sectors. Art has always been an integral part of human expression, and designers are increasingly finding ways to integrate art into their work. I find this area of design particularly exciting because of the endless possibilities for collaboration and creativity.
Architecture has the power to impact people on a psychological level, with uninspiring and monotonous buildings having a profoundly negative effect, which can have a domino impact on various aspects of life. As architects we have a shared responsibility to build a more sustainable and aesthetically pleasing environment. Every building we design and deliver shapes the landscape we live in.
At Chetwoods we are researching and measuring human emotional responses to buildings and developing best practice for designing happiness into places and spaces. We are working with our clients to prove that incorporating artistic elements is a way forward, as it contributes to creating a more sustainable and uplifting environment. This can include simple things like façade compositions, landscape design, and recreational facilities.
What stands out for you about Chetwoods’ approach to its work?
Collaboration is a fundamental element that drives success at Chetwoods. Our teams include architects and designers from a wide array of backgrounds, each bringing their own unique perspective to the design table. This creates an incredibly dynamic and creative atmosphere, where innovative ideas and solutions are constantly explored and discussed.
Working with the Chetwoods team has been an eye-opening experience, and I learn something new every day about the power of collaboration and creative problem-solving. It is an absolute pleasure to collaborate and connect with individuals who possess distinct sets of skills, knowledge, and experiences. The result is a well-rounded design and delivery process, with efficient resource utilisation to identify potential roadblocks and overcome them with creative solutions.
However, fostering a collaborative culture is not always easy. It requires deliberate effort on the part of leadership and team members to establish an environment that encourages open communication and the sharing of ideas. Chetwoods excels in this aspect. Despite people sitting across different time zones, they willingly share their expertise. The three elements of our brand – Studio, Thrive, and Works – each with its specific expertise, work together almost seamlessly from the beginning to the end of every project.
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