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Post-pandemic architecture

Posted by Bath Bespoke on 14 September 2020

Throughout this inter-pandemic phase of life we find ourselves in, it seems the only thing we can be sure of is that the situation is ever-evolving and every industry across the globe will be called on to adapt eventually.

Within our field, the architecture industry will be a key informant in the evolution of our work, as it is called upon to reshape our spaces for a post-pandemic world.

While it is traditionally a field in which change can be slow, discussions within the architectural community have been gathering pace over the last six months, as designers and architects share ideas and initiatives that will ultimately help us navigate the ‘new normal’ and use our current challenges to embrace new inventions, philosophies and practical solutions for everyday life.

But what form will this new architecture take? Specifically, how will these new narratives influence the development, design and construction of our housing? And how can the different facets of architecture make our lives better in these challenging circumstances?

An environmental approach 

An approach that brings together housing concepts with nature and wellbeing will be seamlessly woven into the design and construction of our homes in a post-pandemic era. An undeniable (some might say, crucial) benefit for humanity and our planet.

These buildings of the future will strive to be proud and independent, with integral energy-efficiency including concepts such as air source heating, MVHR, solar power, battery storage, super-insulation and triple-glazing becoming more broadly inclusive in the construction of new homes.

Gbolade Design Studio Passivcabin
Gbolade Design Studio, Passivcabin

London-based architect Tara Gbolade, who works in both the residential and the sustainability realm, puts forward that this pandemic will change the way we think on both fronts: “The quality of housing must adapt, as we continue to spend more time in our homes. This argues for far more energy-efficient homes – and responding to both embodied and operational energy (therefore advocating for higher standards such as Passivhaus as we strive to meet net-zero carbon standards).” 

Passivhaus is the leading international low energy, design standard; it is a highly effective way of providing high standards of occupant comfort and health as well as reducing energy use and carbon emissions from buildings in the UK. Developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany, its international influence is increasing with energy-efficient dwellings becoming an increasingly popular choice across the globe.

The new normal

Sarah Goldblatt Safe Shed
Sarah Goldblatt, Safe Shed

With the more immediate future in mind, concepts for adapting our existing homes to the new realities have already started to emerge, with the announcement of the winner of the Covid-19 Design Innovation Grant by the International Design Awards (IDA).

Designer Sarah Goldblatt has created a concept for an in-home isolation pod, the low cost, easily assembled Safe Shed, where residents can self-isolated safely from others in a single household upon the appearance of symptoms.

A showcase of the diversity and richness architecture has to offer in problem-solving that goes further to demonstrate the innate human ability to survive and evolve in response to a crisis; a timely reminder of the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.

Shared solitude

Dark blue bookcase with book wallpaper and multi coloured woollen chairAs housing design develops with an increasingly human-centric approach, the benefits of the perennial favourite open-plan layouts can be looked at anew.

The need for extra privacy in the home, in response to the increased amount of time spent in the space, is likely to push these once-coveted living spaces to the side.

Before homes are designed with single spaces encompassing entire floors, a better understanding of the importance of nooks and secluded spaces for retreat and privacy can be factored into the floorplan (in recognition that our mental and emotional health will always require moments alone, away from even from those we love and share a home with).

Working from home

Home office with fitted desk and custom made oval tableIt can be argued that one of the biggest game-changers will be the fact that the concept of ‘going to work’ for many has irrevocably changed. The possibilities of homeworking have been laid bare, and the field of architecture will need to take note and adapt to the notion of home and work being intertwined more closely than ever before, as a new ‘work-life’ balance emerges.

More attention will be given to the inclusion and arrangement of a workplace at home and spatial organisation will change, with a dedicated, long-term solution necessary – homes will need to be designed to incorporate a technically equipped, sound-insulated home office with large windows and space for ergonomic, comfortable furniture.

And in turn, the design of offices will require more effort and ingenuity to win a portion of the workforce back…