Every new year begins with new hope and it is more so with year 2021 as we just said goodbye to one of the worst years ever seen by our generation. Of course, there are genuine reasons for being optimistic about 2021, main one being the advent of vaccines for COVID-19. This may soon help the economies around the world to crawl back to normalcy. India too has suffered a lot due to COVID-19, both in terms of loss of human lives and stoppage of economic activities and in 2021, the economy is expected to be back on track. Here is a list of what to expect in year 2021.
How COVID-19 impacts our urban planning?
COVID-19 pandemic has brought out some (in fact many) deficiencies in our city planning. Further, debate is taking place world over about the need to look at urban planning in the light of containing pandemic spread and disaster management facilities. Urban design will have to be viewed in the context of social distancing measures; the perception of sanitation and cleanliness, public health issues, disruptions to urban mobility. Whether the people will be dependent upon public transportation and whether the new normal would provide enough incentives for cycle to work, encouraging walking, encouraging minimisation of big public gatherings within transportation systems or within transportation stations, and buses, etc need to be seen. In facts, these factors will have an important bearing on the way we design our cities in future. Going forward planners and architects need to develop standards in terms of how retrofitting is going to take place not just at the level of making buildings in a better shape in terms of material and construction, but also they will need to look at designing spaces within these buildings and how these spaces can accommodate new workstyles and lifestyles, how to integrate a workspace within a living space, etc.
Is real estate demand sustainable?
Real estate was one of the worst affected sectors due to COVID-19, though of late the sector is seeing some recovery due to various incentives given by the government, especially the stamp duty concession given by some state governments and prevailing low mortgage rate. However, some of the concessions given by the government are for a limited period and we need to wait and watch whether the recent demand spike seen will be sustained even after the ‘honeymoon’ period comes to an end. Some analysts foresee increased consolidation taking place in the industry as the small and marginal players may find the going tough as the real estate demand presently limited to selected well-known and established brands, many in the industry may eventually succumb to the liquidity crisis.
According to real estate analysts, residential sales is expected keep the momentum for the established players in 2021 who will do better both in terms of sales and new launches. Successful listing of two REITs is likely to open the door for more potential REIT listings by other large annuity asset developers. For office leasing, while CY20 may see a 50% YoY decline in demand, analysts expect leasing momentum to bounce back in CY21. With increase in mall operating hours, resumption of Food and Beverage (F&B) and multiplexes, mall rentals may revert back to 90% minimum guarantee from Q1FY22 as consumption stabilises to pre-Covid levels in FY22.
What will happen to ‘Covid-special’ building materials?
Several building material manufacturers have come out with innovative products to suit the needs arising out of COVID-19. Now we have to see whether these products will continue to find favour with the customers once the COVID-19 threat recedes. For example, extra marketing push given to luxury emulsion by the paint manufacturers highlighting their anti-bacterial qualities worked very well in post lockdown period resulting in their increased demand. CenturyPly, a leading wood panel manufacturer, launched VIROKILL technology in Plywood and Laminates which is advertised to kill viruses on the surface of plywood & laminates and the product has been well received in the market. Welspun India, the largest home textile maker in India, started leveraging its integrated capabilities in woven & non-woven fabrics to produce masks, coveralls, wipes and disposable linen. Whether people’s preference will change with the threat perception about the pandemic recedes thanks to availability of vaccines need to be seen in year 2021.
When will Central Vista project restart?
Central Vista project which involves construction of new Parliament house in Delhi is one of the most prestigious projects of the government. Controversy surrounding this project, which is partly due to lack of transparency about the project, has landed the matter in the court which in turn has halted the construction for the time being. So, year 2021 is important for the project from the judiciary point of view too. When will the Supreme Court allow the recommencement of project activities and also subject to what conditions will decide the fate of this ambitious project which is aimed at redrawing the maps of Lutyens Zone in Delhi.
Will construction sector adopt 3D printing technology?
Towards end of 2020 L&T Construction, the construction arm of Larsen & Toubro, announced the successful 3D printing of a Ground plus one Building with reinforcement for the first time in India. Barring the horizontal slab members, the entire building structure was 3D printed ‘Cast in Situ’ at the job site in an ‘open to sky’ environment within 106 printing hours, using a fully automated 3D printer.
For Indian construction industry it’s the new beginning and one has to wait and watch whether this will pave the way for new method of construction in the country. 3D printing will not only accelerate the pace of construction, but also significantly improve build quality. In a country like India where housing is still a dream for many this new technology can herald a new era.