How the pandemic changed the design of the house



More than a year after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can already see changes in the way we work and live that could have a lasting impact on the future design of homes and gardens.

With many people still working from home, neglected areas under stairs or slanted hallway spaces have been adapted to accommodate folding desks. The rear garden sheds have been transformed into fully functional home offices, while the front gardens have become popular play spaces with benches positioned in previously neglected sunny spots to allow for informal conversations with neighbors.

Valerie Mulvin of McCullough Mulvin Architects says people make smart use of the spaces in their homes.

“They take every square inch of space and look for ways to come together and separate and recycle spaces for different uses,” she says.

“People want individual spaces with rooms that can be divided by sliding doors or screens,” says architect John McLaughlin. Photograph: Getty

Mulvin says people also identify “moments of visual pleasure” in their lives by planting flowers, vegetables or a fruit tree in their garden or by placing a row of cacti on a windowsill.

“People bring in the outdoors and outdoors by turning windows into double doors or rethinking the use of a yard or garden by moving bins to create a play space or placing a bench in it. a sunny place.

Mulvin says new customers are looking for home offices to include in their home design.

Valerie Mulvin says new customers are looking for home offices to include in their home design.  Photography: Philip Lauterbach

Valerie Mulvin says new customers are looking for home offices to include in their home design. Photography: Philip Lauterbach

“I think offices will also change with a smaller number of desks, larger meeting spaces, and informal groups that people can meet in,” she says.

Architect John McLaughlin reminds us that the tuberculosis epidemic of the early 20th century also had an impact on architectural design.

“This brought in more white buildings with large windows that opened onto terraces so people could sit in the sun,” he explains.

McLaughlin says there has already been an abandonment of open domestic spaces in the past decade.

“The one-TV family is firmly in the past as everyone now interacts with their devices in different ways. People want individual spaces with rooms that can be divided by sliding doors or mosquito nets. It’s all about flexibility because there is no longer a rigid differentiation between work and leisure, ”says McLaughlin.

“People need privacy to retreat to places where they can be aware of each other but not each other,” says architect Joanne Coughlan.  Photograph: Getty

“People need privacy to retreat to places where they can be aware of each other but not each other,” says architect Joanne Coughlan. Photograph: Getty

The one-TV family is firmly in the past

While front verandas and open porches are making a comeback in some countries as a social and safe space to entertain friends and interact with neighbors, Irish architects say requests for porches and verandas have yet to come. took place in Ireland.

“People are more likely to sit outside and they socialize outside a lot more, walk and cycle more. Cities are therefore becoming more active while city centers are quieter. Everyone recognizes the importance of public space, ”says McLaughlin.

McLaughlin also suggests that as more people work from home every now and then, large office spaces in cities could be turned into mixed residential and office buildings.

“Georgian houses have become offices and warehouses have been converted into lofts. [modern] offices could be converted into houses and reconverted in the future, ”he suggests. The communal rooftop gardens could also become a feature of these converted office buildings.

McLaughlin and Mulvin both say they’ve seen families move from city to city because the need to be close to work is no longer critical.

“This will lead to the revitalization of towns and villages where people can have a better quality of life,” says McLaughlin.

Mulvin believes that invigorating our cities by reinventing the uses of public squares and streets and people returning to empty buildings is an exciting proposition.

“There are lots of opportunities for people to convert closed stores into inexpensive homes in an efficient and sustainable way,” she says.

The concept of the 15-minute city where people can work, shop and play within a 15-minute walk of their homes has also gained more attention during lockdowns around the world. In this model, the spaces could be community work centers by day and youth clubs by night. In Paris and New York, school playgrounds have been opened after school hours for the use of the community.

Architect and home consultant Eva Byrne believes the private bathroom will become a necessity in many homes.

In suites will take on greater importance in the homes of the future.  Photograph: Getty

In suites will take on greater importance in the homes of the future. Photograph: Getty

“Think of an elderly person with a live-in caregiver. Every room should have an en-suite toilet in this situation, both for infection control and privacy, ”Byrne explains. She suggests that low-maintenance bathrooms with larger tiles and glass panels instead of shower doors will become more popular because they’re easier to clean and keep germ-free.

Although the transmission of the virus from surfaces was overestimated at the start of the pandemic, people’s desire for easy-to-clean surfaces in kitchens has increased as we all become more hygiene conscious. Some designers are also suggesting that entrance halls will become clearly defined transitional spaces where everyone takes off their shoes, hangs up their jackets and sanitizes their hands before entering the house. Contactless devices, powered by sensors, could also gain momentum as people seek to limit the spread of germs between occupants of the home.

Byrne believes people will continue to embrace the large open kitchen with dining and family areas, but with the option of closing off each space.

“I never recommend a single large open space. More independently accessible spaces is healthier for family life, ”she says.

Covid-19 has made people aware of the need for good ventilation in their homes.  Photograph: Getty

Covid-19 has made people aware of the need for good ventilation in their homes. Photograph: Getty

If an air quality monitor prompts someone to open a window, that’s a good thing

The realization that Covid-19 is spreading much more indoors than outdoors has also made people aware of the need for good ventilation in their homes. Mulvin suggests that moisture meters and carbon dioxide monitors could become popular as people seek to better understand indoor air quality.

“We don’t measure indoor air quality enough and if an air quality monitor invites someone to open a window, that’s a good thing,” she says.

Joanne Coughlan, architect and landscape architect, says that during the Covid-19 pandemic, we realized that we can ask for more from our homes and our communities. She says the “broken plan” house where all spaces are not directly connected to each other has a future in post-pandemic design.

“Covid has killed the open space. People need privacy to retreat to places where they can be aware of each other but not each other, ”she says. She also believes that the gardens have become vital spaces to “rejuvenate, reflect and relax” after finishing a day of homework.

“When the pandemic started, children were playing in the streets again and there have been wonderful examples overseas, like how Muf Architects in London transformed the roads, streets and the King’s Crescent housing estate. by inviting everyone to get back on the road, ”says Coughlan, who believes playable streets are something we should nurture after the pandemic.

“We have ceded too much of our public domain to the car,” she says, referring to the suburb of Vauban in the German city of Freiburg which has accessory play areas along pedestrian routes. She also says we need to create safe places for teens.

“People are often afraid of groups of teenagers. It must be terrible to be looked at with such suspicion. We need places where teens can “roost and watch” – spaces that say you are welcome here. “



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