Premium consumers are no longer spending nearly as much time, nor are they spending nearly as much of their money, in big cities. During the pandemic, most big cities across the world saw substantial population decreases. New York, for example, lost over 300,000 residents in 2020 and 2021. But this trend is also true for regional business centres, such as Dublin, and it represents a reversal of decades of increased urbanisation. In fact, in Ireland, the country had been struggling to deal with dwindling numbers of residents in smaller towns throughout the country. There were legitimate fears of small towns “dying out”. Instead, many of the nation’s more affluent citizens are buying up properties outside of urban city centres and opting for more space. But even though they are leaving the city, they are not leaving their metropolitan tastes behind. Architecture firms, like Ireland’s renowned Buckley Partnership Architects, are stepping help to help discerning consumers design their dream homes.
Buckley Partnership Architects (BPA) is an Architectural Design Practice based in Ireland whose founding philosophy is to approach each project with individual design attention relative to its site, client, end-user and future development. That is: each of their projects is tailored not just to the client, but to the location itself. This is critically important in a country with so much rich history like Ireland. For BPA, appreciating a place and building as an entity within its historical and social context is critical to a successful project. This is especially true for innovative projects. Innovation in architecture, after all, has to be a coalescence of the old and the new. Thus, these guiding principles are especially important when BPA conducts restorations of Victorian and Georgian buildings, country houses, and stables. The firm’s approach goes beyond what is required from a conservation perspective (although they are registered with the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland as a Conservation Practice grade three). They approach environmental design in the same way: good building design, coupled with appropriate and responsible environmental design, is key to the creation and operation of new and existing buildings in a sustainable manner.
During the pandemic, the firm also began experimenting with new ways to handle clients, given the need for social distancing and the strict lockdowns that the country faced for extended periods. The firm launched its new Virtual Architectural Design Consultations, in response to the new working arrangements introduced to combat COVID. With their staff working from their homes, they introduced this video consultation service to connect with clients, most of whom were also isolated in their own homes. This was the firm’s successful attempt to bridge the physical gap between them and their clients. In the end, the firm found this to be quite successful: many of their clients, who were in their homes much more than normal, finally had the time and the motivation to come up with great design ideas. Thus, they needed access to professionals to help them flesh out and execute those ideas. This stopgap measure proved popular enough that the firm has kept this practice in place even though such measures are no longer required at a governmental level. It is yet another way that the “normal” has forever changed in the architecture industry.