ARCHIDEX lives up to its focus of Building Beyond Tomorrow, by evolving from its thriving physical platform into an exciting and engaging online channel to further connect with a huge global community of professionals.

Since the pandemic hit in the past year or so, people around the world have adjusted to disruptions that have irreversibly changed the way we live, work and play. This has meant a significant move into digitisation for the architecture, interior design, and building industries, which are literally physically based.

Having established itself as being at the forefront of change and the conduit for engagement, the International Architecture, Interior Design & Building Exhibition (ARCHIDEX) – Asia’s Leading Architecture Business Event and Malaysia’s most established trade exhibition for the architecture, interior design and building industry, launched ARCHIDEX Online, an immersive virtual platform built upon ARCHIDEX’s 21 years of strong physical presence.

The platform was soft-launched on Monday, 4 October 2021, in conjunction with World Architecture Day. Moving forward, industry practitioners and suppliers can expect 67 days (from 4 October to 10 December 2021) of online activities tailored to seamlessly connect local and international exhibitors with industry professionals, specifiers and trade buyers.

Five distinguished panelists from the industry discussed the role of architecture in a digitalised world during the inaugural virtual roundtable forum. Also discussed was how the industry has evolved to meet the changing needs of society, and utilisation of new technologies to form connections both online and offline.

Industry leaders at ARO roundtable: (first row, from left) Moderator Ms. Sashikala Nair (Co-founder and Public Relations Director of MNAIR PR Consultancy Sdn Bhd); Datuk Ar. Ezumi Harzani (President of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia); Ar. Dr Tan Loke Mun (Director of Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival); (second row, from left) Encik Mohd Saiful Arifin Rostam (Manager (Construction & Business Services Section and Export Promotion & Market Access Division) of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporate); Dato' Vincent Lim (President of C.I.S and the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations); and Datuk Ar. Tan Pei Ing (Secretary General of International Union of Architects).

Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) President Datuk Ar. Ezumi Harzani spoke on how the architecture industry has evolved to meet new challenges by embracing innovative technologies for brand new opportunities.

“Many PAM members have adopted digital technologies that widen the opportunity for cross discipline collaborations; building stronger teams with hybrid environments converging different skill sets that go beyond conventional setups. Some members remain resilient by expanding their work base to new areas such as Industrialised Building System (IBS) design, Building Information Modelling (BIM) coordination, and Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) visualisation to reach out to a wider client base,” said Datuk Ar. Ezumi.

Kuala Lumpur Architecture Festival (KLAF) Director Ar. Dr Tan Loke Mun, detailed how industry practitioners are able to benefit from digitalisation and online platforms, such as ARCHIDEX Online.

“During the total lockdown period, we instituted a compulsory weekly online meeting for all architects and technical staff to meet selected suppliers for product discussions. These

sessions were informative and impactful, and gave our staff a chance to connect with the key people of these companies. Today, we need fast, smart, and succinct responsiveness; and the ARCHIDEX Online platform, drawing on ARCHIDEX’s strength of connecting people, is providing this responsiveness for the industry,” said Ar. Dr Tan.

International Union of Architects (UIA) Secretary General Datuk Ar. Tan Pei Ing said that the world has changed for architects over the past 18 months since global restrictions were set in place.

“Although we lost ability to interact physically, the migration to the digital and virtual platform has, to a certain degree, made our events more inclusive and allowed for a lot more participation. However, we cannot enjoy physical social interaction, which fosters more intimate exchange and fellowship. We should take this opportunity to really transform and reinvent so we have a new normal that’s a bit more progressive, and a hybrid system is the way to go,” said Datuk Ar. Tan.

President of C.I.S and the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations (AFECA), Dato’ Vincent Lim urged industry practitioners and suppliers to embrace technology with the support of physical events to remain competitive in regional and global marketplaces.

“For businesses to thrive, the way to go forward is to fully dive deep into the digital sphere and this is an optimum time to do it. While there is a massive opportunity for growth in a borderless world where conversations and connectivity are literally within our fingertips, there is still the need for physical events for exhibitors and visitors, for example to connect and build relationships through meetings and other activities onsite, to get to meet and greet people as well as to see, touch and feel the exhibits, products, and materials,” said Dato’ Lim.

On the other hand, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporate (MATRADE) Manager (Construction & Business Services Section and Export Promotion & Market Access Division) Encik Mohd Saiful Arifin Rostam was confident that ARCHIDEX Online can build and bridge connections between vendors, suppliers, and buyers across international borders.

“To overcome travel restrictions, businesses should adopt new approaches in promoting their products and services. This is why MATRADE and C.I.S continue to collaborate on the International Sourcing Programme (INSP), in conjunction with ARCHIDEX, which enables Malaysian sellers to be matched with potential foreign buyers on a virtual platform,” said Encik Mohd Saiful.

(12 October 2021)