When will Boris urge workers to return to the office?

One of the big post-Covid unknowns is whether people will return to big city centre offices or not. As I write in the Times today, the truth is that no one in government can be quite sure of what is going to happen. The Government does have some levers it can pull if it wants to nudge people back to their desks. At present it is instructing people to work from home, advice that’s not due to be reviewed before 21 June. There is also the question of social distancing. If the one-metre rule remains in place after 21 June, it will restrict how many staff any business can accommodate.

Skyscraper squats and a lesson from India: the future of British architecture

Not long ago, if you asked discreetly in the right Hackney pub, you would be put in touch with a character called Syd the Squatbroker. For as little as £150, he would gain access to the roof of an abandoned council tower block with a set of fireman’s keys. Then Syd (nom de guerre of a carpenter from Harlow) would abseil down to a window, gain entry and open an empty flat. Sometimes he would cut through heavy steel squat guards using oxyacetylene cutting gear. Latter-day squatbrokers aren’t yet abseiling down the Shard or Canary Wharf’s glass and steel phalluses to liberate underused office spaces and thereby help solve London’s

The rise of blocked-off design

Plexiglass bubbles hover over diners’ heads in restaurants. Plastic pods, spaced six feet apart, separate weightlifters in gyms. Partitions of all kinds are creeping up in workplaces. As offices, restaurants, bars and businesses reopened after months of lockdowns and closures, a new phenomenon emerged, one that I’ve come to think of as ‘blocked-off design’. It’s design and layout that aims to construct and enforce distancing in a somewhat makeshift way. It’s characterised by partitions, sheer walls, six-foot markers. As a visual language, it’s defined by barriers and blockage — physical reminders that spaces where we once went to mingle with others are now fraught, and that even in public, isolation