Following a surprise coalition victory in the 2019 Federal election, the downturn being experienced within the building industry seemed to be short-lived. Confidence was back in the public and private sector, and the government and industry were looking forward to continued growth and investment. Fast forward less than a year, and not only was the Australian economy, industry, and society in a downward spiral, but so was the rest of the world thanks to Covid-19.

The hit to the economy and confidence was unseen in our generation, or those of recent past. Due in no part to Australia’s ability to deal with the crisis better than most countries around the world, we are starting to see positive signs return to society, industry and economy. Whether these signs continue and develop into genuine growth is still an unknown, but recent queries, feasibilities, and projects suggest 2021 may bounce back strongly.

CBG has looked to utilise 2020 as an opportunity to consolidate and recommit to our vision, mission, and values. For almost 40 years, CBG Architects has been committed to delivering quality architectural projects, building long lasting relationships with our clients, fully integrating all aspects of architecture into a project, and collaboration to create and deliver enduring projects. Whilst 2020 has meant that we have had to do things slightly different to other years, the core values of communication, knowledge, and passion have not wavered, and have allowed us to continue being the trusted advisor to our clients.

With the epidemic seemingly under control, everyone has been keen to return to ‘normal’. This has been evident with the amount of traffic seen on our streets, the consumers in stores, and the crowds at cafes, restaurants, and outdoor gatherings. What remains to be seen is whether we merely go back to our old habits, or whether we use 2020 as an opportunity for growth and education on a personal and professional level.

This year saw completion of numerous residential projects for CBG and there has been no shortage of new opportunities at CBG in recent months;

  • Nava apartments and Sebastopol Residences in Caulfield,
  • Riversdale Road apartments in Hawthorn,
  • Tranquilla Two-Fifty in Tennyson (SA),
  • Transformations of heritage listed buildings in De Carle Street and Edward Street, Brunswick.
  • Construction continues at Pavilion Green in Sandringham, where Stage 1 has now been handed over, with marketing and construction of Stage 2 set to commence early in 2021.
  • Projects in Malvern, Bentleigh, Heidelberg, Hawthorn, and Carnegie are all set to have construction commence in 2021.
  • With numerous projects in Elsternwick, St Kilda, Yarraville, Clayton, Cheltenham, Malvern, and Williamstown currently on our drawing boards and going through the concept and planning process.

Whilst 2020 started with great promise, with an intense stream of new enquiries and feasibilities, as with all businesses, we hit a great deal of uncertainty in March. Most staff moved to working remotely, with the thought it may only be for a month or so. By July, we were all working out of home, with the office temporarily shutting its doors. Working remotely was a different experience for each of us in the office. For those with partners, and non-school age children, it was an opportunity for connection that resulted in increased productivity and efficiency professionally, and a greater level of personal fulfilment. For those with school aged children, trying to balance work with teaching proved difficult at times. With a steady amount of work in the second half of 2020, there were no opportunities for home renovations, hobbies, or new education, but we were constantly aware that many out there would be struggling. Ultimately, we all got through it together, asking ourselves what have we learnt, and how can we grow from this experience?

Speaking from personal experience, it is clear that having the ability to create a better work-life balance is beneficial for clarity of thought and productivity. It has also shown how much more efficient we can be when our time is not eaten up with unnecessary travel and extended meetings. But, it has also highlighted the areas that cannot be compromised. Face-to-face client meetings are critical, as are collaborative design discussions and workshops with team members (both within our organisation and other professionals). Lastly, whilst we could visit sites remotely on-line, the benefits of visiting a site cannot be underestimated. Starting new projects, and trying to put together concepts on sites where no physical access was allowed for inspection proved extremely difficult, and I am glad to once again be able to visit prospective sites.

Moving forward, there will be aspects and procedures that we will try and take out of 2020. I imagine that delivery of projects will take precedence to physical work hours, regardless of where or when the work occurs. Professional experiences with staff members, consultants, and clients will dictate how a project will develop and progress.

In addition to the personal changes we will all make, organisationally, CBG has also looked internally to consider what it stands for. As a business, we were very lucky that whilst impacted by Covid-19, we were able to get through it, while we appreciate that others in the community were not as fortunate. The type of projects, and their ability to make a difference to community and the disadvantaged has become an area of increased focus for CBG. A number of our new projects are working within the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) sector within the scope of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Social Housing projects.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of the CBG journey thus far. Thank you to everyone for their continued support and efforts in what has been a trying year.

CBG looks forward to continued growth and success in 2021, but above all we look forward to seeing our team, consultants, and clients in the New Year.