What is the state of the sector?
The sector is in a moment of opportunity but also of transition. Sustainability is very important and also includes accessibility. Taking into account the ageing of the population, especially in Europe, in 20 years it is predicted that there will be twice as many people over 65, and this is an opportunity to see how to make new homes with a much more flexible vision, incorporating not only physical but also sensory and cognitive accessibility. Here, architecture and all technological aids must go hand in hand from the beginning in a joint design to ensure comfort and make everything easier. And at the same time, being able to adapt spaces to suit changing needs without having to redo the entire structure. In short, adapting a home over a lifetime is quite a challenge.
How does this challenge translate to buildings that are not new construction?
We have a large, obsolete constructed park and we need to extend its life. To achieve this, it is necessary to take a structural look at the building, carry out a comprehensive rehabilitation, how to make it more efficient and, above all, how to improve the health and comfort of the people who live there; and how do we incorporate these sustainability/accessibility criteria to the buildings.
It’s not an easy challenge; it requires a lot of creativity. For example, instead of trying to put an elevator where it doesn’t fit, install an elevator that serves different communities through a courtyard, an island, through other paths which have not yet been explored. A very interesting approach. These are much more strategic projects that lead us towards comprehensive rehabilitation, which means looking at the building and, especially, the whole block. This is the value of architects: the confidence to approach projects with a broader perspective.
Related to sustainability, should accessibility be the future of architecture?
Accessibility is part of sustainability; it’s not just about enabling people to continue living in their homes for as long as possible with a complete neighbourhood network and a connection to the environment. It’s also the opportunity to explore new housing types, including cohousing, which is also being developed with other communities. There is a network of services to support home care, and it is necessary to consider architect teams. We need the sector and society to trust us more, to see us as the family doctor who accompanies and helps you with everything related to public health, as architects must also be alongside everyone to see at each moment what they need.
What do you expect from the next edition of Construmat?
I hope that the entire rehabilitation area will continue to gain strength, as we saw at the last Construmat, and that we will be able to see how rehabilitation incorporates concepts of accessibility and also elements that allow us to incorporate energy efficiency. Also, industrialization, not only in new construction but also rehabilitation. These are the concepts that we would like to have a presence.
Can Construmat contribute to accelerating the achievement of the sector’s challenges?
I believe that we need all these new areas we are talking about to strongly enter Construmat. This will help make the challenges we have on the table visible and put them at the service of companies, professionals, to understand where there is a focus of opportunity for improvement in the entire sector.