The outbreak of the coronavirus has been tough on the entire world and has changed the way of living. Humans, the social animals, have been posed with the challenge of social distancing. The medical faculty is at its maximum capacity in all respects and yet falling short. Working from home is no more a convenience but a requirement.
Such changing times have forced designers all around the world to see through the lens of changing lifestyles, come up with design solutions to facilitate them and get ready for the new normal. Below are a few examples!
1. PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
The use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is the first step towards safety against coronavirus. It is the most important barrier between the virus and the body. The level of protection needed depends on the person’s job, from a simple cloth mask for someone who doesn’t go out much, to a tough face shield or a full body suit for doctors and frontline workers.
Many design firms (Foster + Partners, BIG), international companies (Nike, Adidas, Chanel, Apple, etcetera), local businesses and pharmaceutical companies have been innovating PPE as its use has now become a habit in the new normal.
2. Standalone Intensive Care Unit developed by Jupe
To help hospitals and health centres crumbling under the pressure of coronavirus, flat-pack startup Jupe has introduced the world’s first standalone intensive care unit. Aiming to tackle one of the many healthcare problems, this intensive care unit can be flat-packed and quickly transported to hospitals across the US.
The company’s initial focus was to provide housing to the displaced people, but the problems posed by the pandemic made them shift to the more complex needs of the world. The facilities include Jupe Plus (a light ICU), Jupe Care (an off-grid recovery unit for patients who aren’t critical) and Jupe rest (resting area for medical professionals). The units have a faceted exterior in soft-top covers or hard shells.
3. Mediamatic ETEN, Amsterdam
The dining experience will never be the same post the pandemic. Social distancing is a crucial factor for preventing the spread of coronavirus and this is now being reflected in public spaces. Redefining pandemic dining, Mediamatic ETEN in Amsterdam has introduced independent socially distanced outdoor greenhouses for the diners, and face shields for the hosts.
The serres séparées (separate greenhouses) have made the restaurant quite popular during the recent time for its thoughtful pandemic sensitive design shift, keeping up with the comfort and safety of the diners.
4. Domino Park, New York
New York’s Domino Park has recreated ‘social circles’ by actually painting circles on the grass with white paint, encouraging social distancing. The waterfront park in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood was one of the first to implement 6 feet social distance, as recommended to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The circles that are almost impossible to ignore are approximately 30 in number, drawn in symmetrical rows, each painted with white chalk on artificial grass and 8 feet in diameter for people to sit inside.
5. Checkerboard Park, Elblag, Poland
Another addition to the pandemic sensitive design is Poland’s checkerboard park. With the pandemic hitting Elblag in Poland, the city was forced to close down the Contemporary Art Gallery. It was then when the director decided to safely attract visitors to the gallery’s outdoor space. By mowing the gallery’s overgrown lawn into a checkerboard pattern, social distancing came naturally.
While providing recreational outdoor spaces during the pandemic, the unmowed lawn also helped increase the green space in the area, gradually improving the local ecology as well.
6. Cathedral Gardens, Play Park, Ireland
The coronavirus has promoted adaptive reuse of spaces, turning parking lots and abandoned properties into green spaces for public leisure. In this regard, many pop-up gardens have been coming up all across the world. The Cathedral Gardens in Belfast, is a noteworthy addition to such spaces, as it has changed the vibe of the city centre.
Designed by kids, for the kids, the park was created in less than two months and features imagination-friendly equipment, colourful carpets and mushrooms, rainbow-coloured unicorn grass, outdoor musical instruments and ‘bendy’ benches.
7. Curl La Tourelle Head Architecture London
Not only pop-up gardens but pop-up schools are also being designed to resume children’s education while combating the coronavirus. Curl La Tourelle Head Architecture has proposed a pop-up school in London in the form of a socially distanced tent.
In an attempt to improve the capacity of schools and bring back pupils, a 6 x 18m tent was installed in Manorfield Primary School. It aims to increase social distancing by at least 25% of the current capacity of the school and promotes the Danish outdoor learning experience.
8. Common Ground – Street Mural on Duling Avenue, Jackson, Mississippi
Graphic design can also be a way to promote social distancing. The street mural made by local designers Scott Allen and Casey Jennings on Duling Avenue invites visitors for dining and outdoor recreational activities.
The grid of painted blue 8-foot squares promotes social distancing which is mandatory as per the coronavirus norms. Between each square, there are colourful and playful shapes, each denoting things like plants, chairs, plates and the Mississippi River. This vibrant design serves as a fresh intervention for the public coming out of their houses after a lengthy lockdown.
9. Six Feet Office
The importance of maintaining 6 feet of distance is what gave rise to the Six Feet Office. Social distancing, which is key in fighting coronavirus, has forced designers to rethink workspaces as people are going to return to work eventually. Cushman and Wakefield, a commercial real estate company, has started to solve the issue by developing a concept of safe workspaces.
The Six Feet Office inside the company’s Amsterdam Headquarters is an example of this, the main idea being that there be 6 feet distance between people at all times.
10. Anglo-Eastern Office, Hong Kong by Bean Buro
Here is another take on workspace design post the pandemic. Changing the existing furniture layout to make the office more flexible and help maintain social distance is what has happened in Hong Kong’s Anglo-Eastern Office by Bean Buro.
To help reduce transmission of coronavirus, a reduced amount of fixed desks, larger uninterrupted space have been lodged. Employees can move the furniture and set up their workstations as they deem comfortable. Larger spaces also aid the formation of meetings in various clusters while maintaining social distance.
The coronavirus has surely taken the world by storm. Modern problems require modern solutions and the world isn’t shying away from implementing them. The challenges posed by the pandemic are being creatively solved across the globe with more innovations happening every day. Living in the new normal may seem daunting at first, but humans are highly adaptive creatures. It is only a matter of time that the new normal won’t continue to be so new!