built environment trends

Looking ahead to 2021 – our hopes and predictions

With the Covid-19 pandemic defining 2020, the LOM directors discuss what trends will characterise the built environment in 2021, what clients will be looking for and their aspirations for the year ahead.

John Avery

“2020 will go down in history as the year we were forced to stay at home. As a result of that, and the overnight shift to mass home working, 2021 will be the first year when most employees have a genuine choice of where and how they want to work. That will be transformational not just for society and the shape of our urban centres, but for our physical office environments.

“It’s also going to be a year of renewed hope and innovation. All of the thinking that has been encouraged by the pandemic can start to become a reality – around truly hybrid working and better quality office spaces that excite and motivate people. Corporate occupiers are going to want a clear vision of where they should be heading to attract staff back through their doors in a positive way, and will be looking for design teams with the ability and the ambition to help them manage that crucial change.

“But the design industry itself needs to adapt. Our collective resolution for the New Year must be to find a way to combine the opportunity of online collaboration with the creativity and immediacy of a design studio. We’re not there yet, but the challenge isn’t going away.”


Simon Bird

“2021 should be about the environment and sustainability, as the whole industry focusses on what net zero actually means. All of us – architects, clients, engineers – need to start pulling in the same direction if we are to make a positive difference to the future and create a built environment that underpins the circular economy.

“My other hope for the coming year is that there is an increased emphasis on maximising spaces and improving on quality, both inside and outside the home. As part of this there needs to be real consideration about new and different ways of living. The pandemic has shaken up our expectations of our homes and communities, and alternative residential models like co-living will have a new resonance after experiencing these lockdowns.”


Simon Marett

“2020 has irrevocably changed our relationship with the workplace. It will be fascinating to see how our workplaces will respond. How do we make the workplace worth travelling to? How do we create a workplace that provides what remote working can’t emulate? It’ll be about creating spaces for re-connection, collaboration and focussed working, with seamless digital facilities. We’re finding that occupier clients want to respond quickly, to create a safe, inspiring workplace where staff can ‘make a day of it’.

“It’s vital that some of the wellbeing benefits of this more flexible working life are retained and that we don’t find ourselves gradually reverting to a culture of presenteeism and the depressing grind of the daily commute!”


Richard Hutchinson

“We expect 2021 to be busy, but it will be a competitive marketplace and clients more than ever will be valuing service quality and accuracy delivered swiftly.

“As we look to deliver seamless digital experiences, design teams that traditionally include engineers, cost consultants and architects will be extended to include IT or smart consultants, who will become an integral part of the mix.

“My personal hope for 2021 is that environmental considerations and progress towards net zero, will drive new public sector initiatives and investment on school buildings – ensuring design becomes a more important part of state school programmes. The Government can’t afford to overlook the education sector in this regard.”

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