The most-read stories of 2021 on Modus

While COVID-19 has dominated the agenda, topics such as land reclamation have also proved very popular


  • Modus staff

16 December 2021

Thumbnails of most read articles

During the past year Modus has covered a wide array of topics related to the work of RICS members, from the effect of the pandemic on construction costs to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

We’ve picked out the most read articles of the year in five categories: built environment, construction, natural environment, data and technology, and business and skills. 

Built environment

Has COVID-19 changed how retail space is valued forever?

Back in February, we assessed how the pandemic has changed the way we value commercial real estate. At the time, with online sales of goods skyrocketing, it looked like the days of the bricks and mortar retail store might be numbered. We wanted to know how this might affect the job of surveyors assessing the value of retail property.

What did they say?

“Appraisers are being challenged right now to do their homework and come up with conclusions that they never had to before.” 

Bruce Kellogg FRICS, Atlanta-based managing director at MG Valuation

Crunching the numbers

In quarter four of 2020, occupier demand for retail space was down by 79.4% in the Americas, 78.1% in Europe and 59.7% in Asia Pacific. 


Narrowing margins: cost of building materials soars

As lockdowns around the world eased and economies swung back into action, the construction sector began to boom. However, the supply of building materials couldn’t keep up with demand thanks to a combination of reduced production capacity and logistical headaches. 

Modus spoke to three expert RICS members, based in different corners of the world, to get their take on why construction costs were rising rapidly.

What did they say?

“As material costs grow, you could see margins being eroded for contractors who have been very aggressive in their pricing.” 

Mark Fergus FRICS, regional vice president at construction consultancy Cumming

Crunching the numbers

Disruption to logistics meant that only 25% of container ships were in the right place. This increased the costs per container from about $900 pre-pandemic to $3,000 in mid-2021.

Natural environment

Out of the deep: 7 massive land reclamation projects

Land reclamation has become instrumental to city expansion in places where there’s not much land left to build on or better flood defences are needed. In this article, Modus scoured the globe for seven enormous land reclamation projects that have had mixed results. 

What did they say?

The land reclamation has created a change in the water flows, leading to greater erosion in some surrounding areas, says Emeka Eleh FRICS, a partner in Ubosi Eleh & Co, an estate surveyor and valuer in Nigeria.

Crunching the numbers

Hong Kong’s Lantau Vision Tomorrow project will reclaim 18km2 of land, cost £57bn and the first residents should be able to move in by 2034. 

Data and technology

How COVID-19 brought on the great digital transformation

One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the greater flexibility around working from home now offered by many employers. Admittedly, many of them didn’t have much choice if they wanted their staff to keep working during lockdowns. A more flexible approach to working locations looks set to be a permanent legacy of the pandemic. 

However, this new flexibility does not come without its challenges, so Modus spoke to RICS members to find out how they kept the built environment working remotely.

What did they say?

“We can run virtually every aspect of our business better and faster using a data and digital platforms approach.”

Wilson Lim FRICS, CEO of professional services firm Asian Assets Allianz

Crunching the numbers

Two-thirds of UK professionals want a permanent switch to a hybrid working model and only 21% want to be in the office full-time. 

Business and skills

11 September 2001: the day that changed the world

On the 20th anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, we asked RICS members around the world for their recollection of what happened that day. As well as a huge loss of human life, the attacks had an effect on building protocols and security measures that are still in effect today. 

What did they say?

“I was pulled on to a TV interview with Peter Jennings [anchor of ABC World News Tonight], who asked: ‘How will New York rebuild?’ I answered: ‘New Yorkers are resilient, we will build back, we will be better than ever.’”

Bruce Mosler, former president of operations at Cushman & Wakefield

Crunching the numbers

Only six weeks before the attacks, the CEO of Silverstein Properties had won the contract for a 99-year lease on the Twin Towers for $3.2bn.

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