What will life be like after the Coronavirus? Most of us have never experienced a pandemic and its impact before. While we want to believe that things will return to “normal” the truth is that some things will be forever changed. Perhaps that is most true about the spaces we occupy. What will our live, work and gathering places look like post-pandemic?
Katie Faulkner (Boston) and Rebecca Martinez (Los Angeles) are both designers and members of the Women’s Development Collaborative (WDC). Inspired by a provocative video by IIDA CEO Cheryl Durst, Katie and Rebecca prepared their own presentation for discussion in an interactive WDC online salon. They considered these questions:
- How do we efficiently retrofit and create healthy buildings that not only meet public health requirements but enhance our feeling of well-being?
- How are we reimagining the use of interior and exterior spaces while increasing their inter-connectedness?
- What innovations are being accelerated in real time, such as the rapid deployment of lightweight architecture and modular construction?
Their presentation explored four ways that COVID may change design.
White papers on the future of the workplace have already been written by many companies. Most predict more flexibility with a large percentage of people working remotely. This and the use of the third place as a legitimate workspace may lead to headquarters becoming less important and being replaced by networks. On the other hand, some companies believe they will still require large offices since each worker will need to be more distanced from their co-workers
The need for affordable housing and issues of environmental change have both been exacerbated by the pandemic and are high on the agenda of municipalities everywhere. How can we provide desirable and functional affordable housing with less wasted space? Homes are already adopting a multiplicity of uses — office space, living space, learning space and recreational space. This points to a need for great flexibility. One way to provide that is through modular and prefab building – not new concepts but both are making a comeback. A more recent and perhaps newer trend is co-living or community sharing as a way to provide more space for all of these activities.
The pandemic is forcing a radical change for mixed use developments as well. According to research completed by McKinsey, retail sales fell by 16.5 percent in April alone and e-commerce has grown by a ten-year projected trajectory in a mere three months. What will this mean for first floor retail? Perhaps we’ll see more Omni-channel, or experiential stores where shoppers can check prices, compare products, research reviews, and consult social media before buying. This retail trend, which was already underway, is likely to accelerate.
The street has become the new social gathering place. Recreational activities, including dining occupy streets everywhere. That’s because the outdoors is the safest place to be. Commuting patterns have also changed dramatically, with less transit usage and a surge in bicycle use, both for transport and exercise. And of course, with more people working at home, vehicular traffic has died down, giving rise to vacant garages, parking lots and streets, and providing us unintentionally, with clean air. This has caused much speculation about the future of cars and traffic on our streets and many cities are introducing car-free streets.
Watch this insightful presentation about the disruptive influence of Covid19 on design.
Image © Dezeen