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The AJ’s role is to support architects through these difficult times

Emily Booth
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We will support you in this new, uncertain environment, says Emily Booth

Collapsing, disintegrating, wrecked. It’s not surprising that some of the current language of the coronavirus crisis could just as easily describe buildings being destroyed. Just how quickly can the normal run of things – the journey to work, the school drop-off, the sandwich lunch grabbed from the café – fall away? The answer is: very quickly.

Collectively, we’re in shock. It’s not surprising. The certainty of routine, of which work plays such a big part, is crumbling. Suddenly, structures are toppling – the unseen frameworks that give our lives shape.

But at the same time local communities are coming together to support each other in incredible ways. Street by street, networks are flourishing. Support groups are springing up, shopping is being delivered by neighbours for the vulnerable. There are virtual choirs, virtual drinks, virtual hugs. We are looking out for others. Most of us had never heard of Zoom before the past week, now our grandparents are using it.

We’ve never been physically so far apart – but in shared experience, we’ve never been closer.

Where does work fit into all this? Where does architecture? The answer is: everywhere. The profession is worried about the health of its employees, the security of jobs, the reliability of income. It’s working from home while, perhaps, juggling childcare and care for elderly relatives. The boundaries are becoming more blurred in these strange times, and maybe we are all becoming a bit more human in the process.

The boundaries are becoming more blurred in these strange times, and maybe we are all becoming a bit more human in the process

This is an unprecedented time for the profession, and individuals and companies are facing massive challenges. The AJ’s role through this crisis will be to support you in this new, uncertain environment. To share your stories; to keep you informed; and to investigate what best practice looks like in a changing world. We will be exploring new ways of working – within the architecture industry, and as journalists.

As we flex and adapt to this new reality, it is useful to remember what architects and architecture do. You solve problems. You think laterally. You see a better way of doing things. Your work is the stuff of positive action.

It’s the very opposite of destruction and despair. Perhaps these three words go some way to capturing architecture’s spirit and resilience in these difficult times: imagine, create, build.

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