Erik Behrens | Live Chat Series | Episode 1

The first Instagram Live Chat Series with MDFF Greece—Athens’s (Nov 6-8) guest Daniel Gava, Brand strategy advisor to the architecture and design industry. Daniel has been invited to present the live chat series via an Instagram Takeover, joined by top creative industry fellows to talk about the current state of affairs, the think tanks, and practices currently in motion.

This is part of MDFF Greece’s initiative New Forms Of Presence, as a response to this forced intermission, in which guests of the festival are invited to experience new ways of expression, communication, connection, beyond the traditional formats of engagement, stepping outside of their comfort zone and enhancing a spirit of community within the creative “tribe.” 

The concept was based on the idea of presenting our guest Daniel Gava by raising a simple question: What is the new form of presence for a Brand strategy advisor to the architecture and design industry during a lockdown? How can a live experience exchange, to a certain extent, touch upon thoughts, reflections, and topics of discussion that we hold behind the screen? These live chats aim at the one hand to zoom into the guests individually, and on the other hand, zoom out looking at the way each can share knowledge and observations or inspirations that relate to the industry each one represents.

The guests are invited to reinvent themselves through a series of personal semiotics, always connected to each one’s oeuvre or discourse; to present, connect, and communicate, beyond their familiar form of presence, allowing new shapes of being to come forth via new contexts. An invitation for responses of various forms of expression, carriers of different meanings “designed” with authenticity, transparency, and an “unfiltered” approach that reflect upon these concepts, and at the same time raise the curtain. 

This first “episode” includes three 20 mins chats with three guests.


A conversation with Erik Behrens

The second part of the discussion sees Erik Behrens. He is the emerging international Architect and Creative Director of AECOM whose work is signified by ambitious designs, many defying traditional architectural conventions.

The chat touches upon the lockdown’s aftermaths — such as not traveling and working remotely, the role of architecture and design in facing new dynamics and requirements of future cities, transportation, social interaction, and workplace, as well as our need for social interaction.

“…I think it’s an interesting time; I would say we are all forced into this situation and our clients and ourselves, I think are adapting very well the whole circumstances. We obviously started using a lot of 3D tools already and kind of collaboration tools in the virtual realm, and we used them more now…and we are using them quite well. Even our clients are getting used to looking at BM360 kind of information, 3D Live models… we do even live sketching sessions. In a way when you think about it, I obviously don’t have to travel around the whole world for just one meeting and one presentation, and we do most of that now remotely, even to very senior people on the client organization. It quite interesting because there is a kind of virtual relationship building. Obviously is not the same as when you meet face to face… Most of our projects are progressing, obviously a lot of the government-owned projects are focusing at the moment on the essential projects…The travel market collapsed. A lot of our airport expansion projects came suddenly to a halt, and a lot of people are wondering what the future of air travel is.. probably we are not going to fly that often for a while until we have really a treatment… We are thinking ahead as one of the leaders in the aviation sector, as a whole company, and we are very close to our clients at the moment helping them with this period, and trying to really work even with the scientists to find new ways of dealing with airports and getting people safely from one destination to another… The market will open up again, and we will be flying around for sure… I think we can probably see the first generation of volicopters, lilliim planes… to be used probably sooner rather than later because people might prefer to be on an individual plane for short-distance travel… but maybe the A380 becomes popular again because social distancing on this big plane is probably easier… I think apartments will probably become the new office, and corporate offices the new apartments. We are already a leader in that sector, wondering if it will become the new norm to work from home…When you think of Frank Lloyd Wright’s new city, the Broadacre City vision, where everyone is connected and flying from one destination to another, we can, in theory, work together in a network… In the creative industry, we still like being together; there is this kind of synergy and flow, so I don’t think remote working will be the norm as such that you don’t have any physical interaction. That’s something we definitely need… I think a lot of people probably want more parks after the lockdown period. We all want more oxygen and fresh air, talking about Oxygen Park (Qatar), which is basically a green land in a desert environment on a university campus for the Qatar Foundation… I think that people reconquer nature and rediscover nature. I can see that probably in the fresh air and not having so many cars around us, is something people want to see in the future and we’ve been forced in a way to adapt to change now by the governments. We are probably getting used to it more to that kind of change, which previously completely we didn’t want to see happening… People start seeing the outdoor environment as a new space to do physical exercise, and that is a new habit and a change in lifestyle, which probably a lot people will demand… On the other hand, we also miss urbanity, the social interaction. We start reflecting upon ourselves and our daily lives; we were rushing to the airport, jumping on a plane, sleeping on planes, commuting in a way like in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis… In the future we might want to have a more balanced life and want to see a bit more green space conquering the city, we want to probably enjoy much more what makes the city actually livable… We might see an accelerated kind of change happening after the pandemic period. We never thought about change and change is something difficult for a lot of people, in particular for people of older generations. But now we got forced to change… Change is suddenly seen as something possible and positive… Stone Age is a great project supporting this idea of reconnecting the surrounding landscape, a whole kind of constellation of important burrows and other elements…in the landscape. The road was dividing it up and by taking the road underground it eases congestion on the traffic side but it also allows this world heritage site to be experienced as it was originally meant to be experienced… The agenda at the moment is obviously focusing on the imminent essential projects…involved in helping the set up of temporary hospitals all over the world, there are several kind of teams in the US very busy involved in that we provided the government here also support with our project management teams and health care specialists…On the other hand, the other projects are also progressing…everyone wants to think beyond the pandemic, and i think that’s a good thing that we keep this positive momentum going… we will come out stronger, and in the future we will be more resilient to pandemics…” _Erik Behrens