Рresident of the International Union of Architects (UIA) Thomas Vonier shares his predictions on safety in buildings and public spaces after the pandemic.

Thomas Vonier, president of the International Union of Architects (UIA), Jury member of the Golden Trezzini Awards, recognized expert on safety in buildings and public spaces, previously commented on anti-coronavirus safety measures taken in Korea where he happened to be in March when the pandemic was declared. Continuing on the subject, Mr. Vonier offers his vision of changes in people’s habits and corresponding measures in buildings after the COVID-19.

“For some time to come, buildings and spaces are sure to reflect the greater-than-ever unease people now feel when they are near strangers. How soon can you imagine eating at a restaurant within inches of an unknown neighbor? When will you be at ease in a line, or in a train or bus, or in a cinema or a stadium, with your body almost touching an unfamiliar person next to you? When will a parent again use a communal baby-changing table? We have already begun to identify the “known unknowns,” and it is certainly natural to wonder: What awaits us on the other side of mounting infection rates and death curves? What will security professionals have to confront? As guesses are come from all over, here are a few of mine:

“Boundaries will remain blurred between workplace and residence. We already know that serious cyber-security issues arise from using home Wi-Fi networks and unvetted videoconference applications. What about handling and storage of sensitive business documents, or monitoring employee practices? Where does the employer’s right to monitor begin and end? Expectations of privacy are shifting, and places once thought private may no longer be very private.

“Retail space will shrink even further. Many retail chains are unlikely to be back in business at anything approaching previous levels, which means more vacant space and attendant security issues. Stores may shift from retail to other uses, including residences and light industrial operations. Retail establishments will need reconfigured entrances and aisles, with new pickup and delivery functions. Curbside parking for parcel pickups will be at a premium, as will dedicated parcel-handling areas on parking lots.

“The out-of-doors will be more important. Exercise and recreation have shifted remarkably rapidly, from indoor gyms and swimming pools to outdoor parks, sidewalks, and roadways. These patterns will probably continue, bringing with them a host of public security issues.

“People will spend more time at home. This is bad news for burglars and car thieves, perhaps, but it also means that offices and other workspaces will lack the inherent security that comes with being occupied by many people for extended periods. Security managers are already coping with this problem in the short-term, but this may last longer than expected.

“Digital encounters will grow. Once people have learned that many tasks and errands can be accomplished without a physical meeting or travel, won’t it be difficult (and basically unnecessary) to turn back? Remote medical consultations have taken an important leap forward, but hospitals and health care facilities now face more stringent screening and control requirements.

“Sanitation will be key. People entering buildings will want to wash their hands immediately and will be encouraged to do so. This will complicate the transition from outside to inside. Cleaning and maintenance personnel will have to focus on all surfaces people touch. Shared spaces will have to be adjusted to accommodate distance requirements. The domain and range of security concerns will change—and probably expand.”

Architect Thomas Vonier FAIA RIBA CPP works from Paris and Washington DC for clients with facilities in high-threat environments and for municipalities improving their security postures. He is a licensed architect and board-certified protection professional. He is president of the International Union of Architects (UIA), the global organization representing the world’s 3.2 million architects, and former president of the 95,000-member American Institute of Architects. Member of the Golden Trezzini Awards Jury since 2019.


The International Golden Trezzini Awards for Architecture and Design is named after Domenico Trezzini (1670—1734), the first architect of St. Petersburg and the founder of Petrine Baroque. The Awards has been held since 2018. The motto of the Awards is “Architecture as Art.” The Awards are intended to acknowledge and promote architectural and designer projects that amount to works of art.

The Honorary Chairman of the International Council of the Awards is Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg. The Council uniquely includes directors of a number of leading art museums of Russia, the USA, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, and Finland.

Entries for the Thirds International Golden Trezzini Awards for Architecture and Design can be submitted at  www.goldtrezzini.ru/en/ till October 15, 2020. Participation is free of charge.

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The General Partner of the Golden Trezzini Awards is the State Museum of St. Petersburg History. The System Partner is RBI Group. Partner of a Special nomination is YIT. The Official Awarding Partner is LenRusStroy Building Corporation. To see a full list of the Awards partners, please, check: https://goldtrezzini.ru/en/partners-of-the-golden-trezzini-awards-2020/.

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