Architects Rethink Design And Space As The Pandemic Throws Up New Challenges

Disruption is the natural order of things when a calamity like the COVID-19 strikes. There has been a significant impact on every sector and industry including real estate. From hotels to residential spaces, luxury real estate to commercial architects are rethinking the designs and spaces all because of the distancing aspect of the pandemic.

Here’s what you can expect to start seeing soon:

1. Home design

It won’t be surprising if the homes of the future have a special disinfection station. A space where you can put down your groceries, courier and packages somewhat like a self-contained foyer. The material used would largely be stone for ease of sanitization.

The lockdown has surely forced us to rethink the way we live, our spaces and the building material we use. Elements like mobile closets, wider pantries and moveable storage carts will make an appearance. If you can’t go outside, bring the outdoors in. There will be increased focus on adding elements of green, gardens and gardening elements to living spaces.

One can expect a rise in living walls or vertical gardens, not to mention vegetable and herb gardens for those ‘lockdown’ days when you want to cut back on grocery store runs.

The material palette will be more robust and more cleaning-friendly. Textiles and wallpaper are understandably very difficult to clean. Manufacturers are already working on material that is easier to clean and scrub.

2. Office space

There will be more focus on redesigning parts of home as the new home office. Considering that a large part of the workforce could be working from home in the foreseeable future. Coworking spaces will need to reconsider the design of hot desks and communal spaces for more sanitary, more private areas.

Many adjustments in commercial real estate design are simply an extension of trends that existed much before the pandemic. For instance, biometric scan at the entryway and automated door opening/closing, voice-operated elevators, cubicles and dividers.

There will be more frequent cleaning updates and antimicrobial fabrics in offices, enhanced ventilation systems and addition of UV lights to disinfect the space at night.

Needless to say, the open office plan might soon be a thing of the past as social distancing becomes part of our DNA. Densification or the concept of packing more people into open office spaces will take a break.

Say hello to the private office or the cubicle. Architects may also work on introducing various types of divisions between desks in order to block the passage of visus. The more longer term design fix will be done with the use of space. Safety will be inherently woven into the design.

3. Innovation in air filtration:

There will be more investment and innovation in sanitization and air filtration systems at homes, offices, hotels and other spaces. Designers might also take their cue from existing healthcare designs right from its use of copper fixtures to fabric that retains fewer germs, more spacious kitchens and bathrooms and the use of UV lighting.

Automation and voice technology will also play a role to eliminate the need for pushing buttons and touching handles or surfaces.

Intimate spaces but with physical distancing

The real challenge for design and architecture lies in creating a sense of community without breaking physical distancing norms. From new building techniques, modular construction to more cleaning-friendly materials and adaptive reuse, the pandemic has changed the way we look at spaces and design forever. Perhaps, for the better.