One of the many aspects gravely impacted by COVID-19 is the quality of student life. With the continuous spread of the novel coronavirus, educational institutions are adjusting their systems to conform to the demands of social distancing and community quarantine. While several colleges and universities have resorted to distance learning, a number of schools are exploring the possibilities of blended learning, which would require changes in the practices of student residences such as apartments and condominiums.
Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation is known for its premium student residences. Their buildings are strategically located near colleges and universities and are directed to enhance the student experience through commercial and residential spaces. “Our first big real estate project was launched 23 years ago, and since then we have survived several crises like the 1997 and 2009 world financial meltdowns, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, peace and order problems, and even pandemics like SARS in 2003 and H1N1,” recalled TLDC CEO Tomas Lorenzo during the ‘Strategizing Real Estate Marketing: An Industry Response to COVID-19’ webinar. He also underscored that many investors and the public at large will now look at safety and security protocols in choosing residential spaces, adding that property management will be a key differentiator for developers moving forward.
To find out how TDLC adjusted its regulations during the COVID-19 outbreak and what plans they have moving forward, BluPrint asked the developers a few questions. Below is an excerpt from the virtual interview:
BluPrint: What building protocols did you implement when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines?
TDLC: Through proactive property management, we swiftly strengthened safety and sanitation protocols across all properties. We enforced a strictly no mask, no entry policy and perform temperature check for all incoming residents and guests with contactless temperature scanning. We also installed hand sanitation stations in entry areas where there are touchpoints. Footbaths are installed in entrances for residents and guests as an added level of biosecurity and high-traffic areas and surfaces like front-door handles and elevator buttons are regularly sanitized.
How do you ensure the safety and security of the buildings’ employees?
All property management, support personnel, and utility personnel undergo regular COVID-19 testing to ensure safety in the ranks of service providers. They are equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in the conduct of their daily work.
How are you managing conditions such as social distancing? Will there be any changes in terms of the set up in each room?
Social distancing markers are placed in common areas to guide residents and guests. Designated pickup and drop-off points have also been installed to organize and limit exposure from delivery services.
Depending on the property, we keep a maximum number of occupants per unit type to maintain density and to promote the overall safety and security of our entire properties. For studios, it’s usually a maximum of two occupants, and for one-bedroom units, it’s usually a maximum of four occupants.
How often are spaces and areas in student residences sanitized? How do you ensure the safety and security of each building?
Common, high-traffic areas – such as lobbies, elevators, hallways, study nooks, and roof decks – are sanitized every thirty minutes. Amenities such as gyms and pools remain closed while additional security features are being sourced and installed before the resumption of use in accordance with government health protocols.
What practices would you recommend for student dorms/housing?
Changing academic landscapes also requires conducive spaces for students to focus, study, or perform school tasks form the comforts of their homes. Equipping residences with facilities such as high-speed internet, for example, will provide a much-needed boost to student productivity.
What are the key factors that you consider prior to building premium student residences?
Location and accessibility are very important. Having the right mix of commercial tenants within properties is also crucial, as the pandemic has highlighted the need for easy access to daily essentials, such as pharmacies, groceries, banks, and bookstores. It is important to ensure that these essentials are within easy reach limit residents’ exposure, as this promotes overall safety and convenience.
Do you have any plans of redesigning your premium student residences after this pandemic?
TLDC properties are geared towards fast-changing school and work landscapes. Across TLDC premium university residences, for example, study nooks are equipped with a reliable internet connection to provide spaces that will enable students and professionals to achieve their best while studying or working from our properties.
Open decks have long been a feature of TLDC properties, where students can exercise or unwind after a long day with ample social distancing. TLDC constantly innovates with a thrust to design for tomorrow, and the company tries to apply learnings to ensure that each project will be better than the last.