Comment: Jonathan Ashmore, ANARCHITECT, on rethinking design

Comment: Jonathan Ashmore, ANARCHITECT, on rethinking design

Jonathan Ashmore, ANARCHITECT

Jonathan Ashmore
Jonathan Ashmore

The founder and director of London- and Dubai-based Anarchitect, Jonathan Ashmore, concludes our series of comment on COVID-19 from the Commercial Interior Design Power List 2019.

Ongoing projects

"The site-works are near completion on the highly anticipated Harding Boutique Hotel in Sri Lanka, a boutique luxury hotel set on the footprint of an old tsunami house. We are responsible for the hotel's architecture, interior architecture design and also the design of some of the bespoke furniture and lighting elements, working with lo- cal craftsmen and artisans.

"We are also on-site with Bahrain's first design-led co- working space. Site-work is also underway on an extremely challenging private desert residence in the UAE, where one of the two private villas is set atop a shifting 25-metre high sand dunes, requiring us to imple- ment the highest degree of architectural skill and expertise into the building's structural work. We have also broken into African market being appointed to design an urban destination new-build hotel in Nairobi and taken on our first London residential project with contemporary intervention in upscale Belgravia."

The present

"There is greater sense of collaboration and exchange of valuable information than ever, particularly between design studios' owners during these times, as everybody is in the same situation and keen to share their advice and experienc

"It is clear that during these unprecedented times, we draw even more upon our teamwork, collaboration, innovation and humanity with our colleagues across the globe, consultants, peers, clients, families, friends, and even our social media communities."


"We are privileged to have work across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa, managed from our Dubai and London studios, where ANARCHITECT has long embraced technology to support our communication, remote working, conference calling and daily site communication for our various and diverse projects across four conti-nents.

"This experience and efficiencies are now more valuable than ever as we ensure our number one priority being the health and wellness of our ANARCHITECT extended family, yet enabling us to work at full capacity, adhering to the official stringent health advices with organised homeworking in place.

"We use video conference calling and instant messaging services between our team internally, with a strong focus on our morning video group meetings. This sense of regularity and seeing everybody's faces strengthens our team's spirit and en-hances our sense of community, knowing and seeing we are all in this together.

"All meetings with clients, suppliers and consultants are held via conference calls until further notice. Having many of these practices in place for a couple of years now and being a boutique, agile practice, really helps us to navigate through the current global business challenge."

What next?

"We anticipate that the more day-to-day buildings like offices, retail and schools will look to the healthcare sector, and in particular, hospitals to better understand what design measures can be taken to create more resilient and sterile spaces to avoid the transmission of viruses.

"Surface material selection is one obvious thing, but interestingly, certain materials like copper have natural antimicrobial properties that kill bacteria, so surfaces and key touch points in buildings like doors and handles could be considered further. Other considerations are washbasins closer to the entrances, specialist HEPA filters within the AC systems to avoid recirculating air to transfer airborne viruses from one space to another."


"Our global-local approach embraces local materials, craftsmanship and context within our projects and we will continue to encourage local sourcing wherever possible. We hope in time that this will become the normal practice, as the world reflects upon the importance of community network and local infrastructure in-light of the current global situation."

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