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Could Future Architectural Design Be Influenced By COVID-19?



I have read through a few articles that predict the effect that Covid-19 will have on the future of architecture. Like pandemics in the past have had impact on design, most see it likely that this one will as well. There are a few main points that most agreed on.


1. Open offices are likely to become a design of the past. Architectural Digest mentioned that open office plans were on their way out prior to Covid-19. With more employees now aware of the impact of proximity can have during an unprecedented time as this, there may be an even bigger push for separation in the workplace.


2. The move toward more touch-less surfaces such as automatic doors, automatic or heat censored lighting, voice activated elevators, etc. Architectural Digest shares this statement by Miami architect Kobi Karp, “I don’t see why if I can tell Siri to call my wife, or my remote to cue up Netflix, I couldn’t tell an elevator to take me to the 10th floor.” An article from The Guardian by Oliver Wainwright cleverly refers to this as a, "hands free future."


3. Another major change could be that buildings may include more antibacterial surfaces such as copper.


4. Spaces are likely to have increased open areas to maintain distance between occupants.


5. Another topic mentioned was one that was trending before the virus, but more so now. This is bringing the outdoors in. An article from Dwell states that "Quilting together of the indoor and outdoor spaces is of increasing importance." There are two reasons it seems that this is increasingly popular. One is the benefit of nature on health and wellbeing. Another is the fact that people have been isolated and forced to stay mostly indoors for some time during the outbreak and may have been influenced to add touches of nature or decide to add on a sun room, a screened in deck, or even a skylight.


6. There may be sanitizing and hand washing stations. Along with these there could be temperature checks entrances and UV sanitation. Ventilation systems that removes potentially contaminated air might also be installed.


7. Hospitals may have rooms that are for well patients that can easily transform into ICU rooms in the case of overcrowding. Hopefully, the hospitals will also work out a way to eliminate the single waiting room that is likely to spread illness. The Architectural Digest article suggests possible waiting nooks that individuals could use and be notified via technology when it was time to be called back.


To end the discussion on possible changes to come, I think that the Architectural Digest's discussion with Lionel Ohayon is worth mentioning. He says, “When I graduated architecture school in ’94 we talked about how tech was going to change how we commuted and lived, and that has not been true. Cities are more popular, people use more paper, commercial real estate is booming while retail is devastated. All this will be tested as we are forced to work apart. If virtual working is successful, if we are in fact more productive, it’s going to fundamentally change the value proposition of shared workspace. Not everyone wants to be in a big social playground.” To me this means that sometimes what we think will change doesn't do so to the extent that we imagined because it is just an idea, but after we are forced out of the old way of operating, it may be easier to adapt and realize that it actually works better than the old way.


References:


https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/apr/13/smart-lifts-lonely-workers-no-towers-architecture-after-covid-19-coronavirus

https://www.dwell.com/article/architects-say-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-will-change-home-design-ee29c873

https://www.departures.com/lifestyle/architecture/architects-predict-future-of-design

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/covid-19-design

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