DEC 13 2021

Designing During The Pandemic - A Challenge We're Embracing

Madeira Lane

As 2021 winds down, it’s just the beginning for challenges facing the construction industry, after an embattled few years struggling through the pandemic.

It’s how we respond that will determine what happens next.

Research recently released by the Construction Sector Accord shows that 53% of construction businesses are facing shortages of materials and supplies, and 34% are struggling with a lack of skilled staff. The Registered Master Builders Association survey reports a staggering 95% of respondents are seeing increased costs, delays and product substitutions.

Lockdowns and border closures have disrupted supply chains, driving up costs of materials and causing significant delays to timelines across the country. Combined with the ever-increasing demand for housing and builders under severe pressure to keep up, there’s a perfect storm on the horizon, and a real risk that we face a future of a defective buildings built in a hurry with insufficient materials.

While it’s understandable in unprecedented times like these to think day by day, there’s a significant need to rise to the challenge and plan for the future, or risk being left behind.

The construction industry is hitting a crisis point in more ways than one. With New Zealand’s recently announced net-zero carbon emissions targets, it’s impossible to ignore that the sector produces 4.4 million tonnes of waste each year, and 20% of our country’s carbon footprint is linked to construction.

Last month, it was announced that New Zealand’s goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030, if we are to avoid a range of climate change impacts.


Faced with such a range of problematic factors, it’s possible to lose hope. But at Arch Group, we believe in finding opportunity in challenge, and we believe a healthy construction industry is hugely important to New Zealand and New Zealanders. As with all tumultuous times, there’s a chance to rethink, to adapt, and find new ways of working.

Since the pandemic began, we’ve been working closely with our clients, contractors and each other, keeping the lines of communication and the expectations crystal clear. We’ve weathered multiple lockdowns and now we’re back in the office, powering towards the end of 2021 and planning for 2022.

We face the challenges of the industry daily, and we want our designs to reflect our response, using clever design solutions and carefully chosen materials.

The pandemic hasn’t slowed our creative drive or our commitment to quality design.

Creative Arch’s Madeira Lane project is an example of our 2021 response. The site, an unused inner-city carpark will be transformed into seven terraced houses that combine urban living with an eco-friendly lifestyle. As the housing market continues its wild trajectory, this complex addresses the need for inner-city homes that are spacious and comfortable on a compact, unused site.

The design is Homestar rated, which means there’s a focus on sustainable, low maintenance materials, and there’s a recycling programme for waste construction materials. The project partners Creative Arch with Solution Street, a developer committed to affordable first home solutions that meet ecologically acceptable standards.

Elsewhere across Arch Group, the team are contributing to New Zealand’s built environment in a positive way.

Resolution Arch’s work in architectural remediation repairs buildings constructed with substandard materials and overcomplicated systems. Their speciality is technically challenging design solutions that help people put their homes and their lives back together.

Thoughtful remediation is an important part of how Aotearoa can meet its low carbon goals – when homes are reconfigured to be healthier and are restored with low maintenance materials, they are more energy efficient. Combined with upgrades to meet, and surpass, building codes, as well as a focus on improved comfort and thermal performance, these homes are future-proofed and reduce their impact on the environment.

Infusion Arch’s work in medium density developments helps to address the country’s shortage of housing by creating residential developments with durable, low maintenance materials. Across Creative, Resolution and Infusion Arch, we’ve embraced the chance to use products made locally in Aotearoa, which has helped with supply chain issues, and supports local.


As 2021 draws to a close, the team at Arch Group are proud to have responded to the challenges we faced this year, adapting our ways of working as we navigate our way into 2022.

At our core, we are designers, and our contribution to the future of New Zealand is to create thoughtful design solutions that will positively impact our built environment. We’re committed to collaboration, to our designs, and to keeping ahead of the challenges this industry faces.

Whatever 2022 brings, the team are looking forward to the challenge.