Time for a fresh start, but unlike ever before | by Andrea Serri
Spring is traditionally a time of fresh growth and new beginnings, but this year will be unlike any other. The exceptional nature of the current situation opens up new opportunities in all sectors, including the world of architecture and construction where Italian bricks, tiles and ceramic sanitaryware play a leading role.
The way we perceive our homes and living spaces has changed dramatically. Amid extended lockdowns and evening curfews, never before in recent history have people the world over spent so many hours a day for so many months confined indoors. As a consequence, we have begun to reappraise the importance of open spaces such as balconies, patios and courtyards, especially in cities. We are also growing increasingly aware of the need to sanitise our living spaces and create healthy environments as a key aspect of “living quality”, a concept that is gaining importance on the scale of values of people all over the world.
The pandemic is fuelling a vision of “healthiness” that goes beyond mere hygiene and is part of a broader concept of environmental and social sustainability. The sense of global interconnectivity between phenomena enhances our awareness of the way in which all our behaviours are interrelated: the constant focus on “me” is being replaced by the idea of “us”. Moreover, the realisation of the limited availability of natural resources is making us more aware of the way we use products and the importance of the characteristics of inertia, safety, durability and recyclability – all of which are time-honoured qualities of ceramics.
The world of architectural design must respond to the new requirements of the many different areas of the built environment by choosing materials capable of improving the quality and healthiness of indoor spaces while constantly pursuing beauty and functionality, because aesthetics will continue to be an important part of our lives. At the same time, tax incentives for residential renovation (the so-called Superbonus and “Façades Bonus” schemes in Italy and similar measures in other countries) can serve as a powerful tool for accelerating the process of residential and urban transformation. And in particular, Italian ceramic products have an increasingly important role to play thanks to their intrinsic characteristics, sustainability and potentially unlimited range of applications.