As the pandemic takes control over everything in the world, people are bound to adapt to the changing scenarios. The inception of the ‘new normal’ is becoming live with social distancing norms, covering our face at all times, traveling only when necessary, and following curfew timings.
This new way of life is here to stay, changing our priorities and altering our perceptions to a great extent. The foremost thing this pandemic has taught us that the future is unknown and exceptionally unpredictable and dubious. This calls for wise decisions from all fields of work, especially our field of architecture.
Architecture that follows all norms, is adaptable, is close to nature and in harmony with it, is of utmost importance. Keeping in mind all these challenges, architects have to take an extra step forward and rethink the future. Here are some well-known firms and their ideas on how to deal with the consequences of this pandemic.
Jordan Goldstein at Gensler talks about how there is a need for the architecture of optimism. Architecture that expresses its purpose at every level of design and makes a person feel tranquil and confident while heading out. The whole game lies around building a trust-worthy environment at places considered to be highly risky for the spread of this disease, like public spaces, offices, or any social gathering places for that matter.
They gave a very futuristic design proposal which is starting to evolve in many places in offices. A completely ‘no-touch’ office system; where your face is the ultimate facial identity. Vestibules have automatic heat-sensing cameras, the building elevators recognize you by your facet and direct you to the room where your next meeting is scheduled for a video call or other places where you need to be at that moment.
Virtual assistant plans your day, meetings, adjusts lighting, and height of your workspace furniture according to you, gives important messages, and can only be heard by you, hence not disturbing your co-workers. How ultramodern is the concept and highly practical if implemented in full swing (which is being implemented in many offices in Beijing)!
Not just facial recognition, but full control over the centralized HVAC systems of any building is also one proposal by Gensler. When we head outpost the pandemic, the priority will be to keep ourselves safe from another possible outbreak of the virus. Hence, controlling the HVAC would help in this way- if there is any symptomatic patient in any particular zone of the office recognized by the sensors, there will be an automatic change in pressure of the air so that the air from that zone does not travel to other zones of the building, safeguarding the working of the office in a great manner.
Similar no-touch systems are thought of being applied in hotels as well by a UK-based architecture studio- The Manser Practice. A hotel with no receptionists and built-in gyms in the room itself will lessen the contact between people. The internal planning is also bound to change complying with the norms.
An Austria-based firm, Studio Precht gave the proposal of a ‘Parc de la Distance’ in the shape of a fingerprint. Separated by high planter wedges, the Park looks more like a maze with several walking paths which could be used simultaneously while the social distance is maintained. Chris Precht, the founder of the firm, draws his inspiration for this proposal from French Baroque Gardens and Japanese Zen Gardens to design a unique park like this.
In an interview with constructconnect.com, Ian Hunter from TV design stated that they switched to laptops for their office work to inculcate a little freedom in the style of working. Similar was the answer of John Bencich from Square Feet Studio who also added that switching to a cloud-based networking system gave them an added bunch of freedom of work.
Judiciously utilizing technology is very important. During this pandemic, every single employee of all kinds of companies and firms were stuck at home with the only option of ‘Work from home’. Switching to online storage systems and laptops instead of bulky computers is a great resolution to many problems.
One major problem that occurred during the pandemic was transportation. Public transportation has to be addressed in ways to follow the ‘new norms’ post-pandemic. The city of Milan has come together and proposed a Strade Aperte Plan (Open Street Plan) to encourage walking and cycling amongst people as an alternative to public transport.
HUA HUA Architects from the Czech Republic has imagined a unique ‘Gastro Safe Zone’ to restore the link between people and public spaces. While maintaining social distancing norms, they plan to regulate stagnant food businesses to get back on their feet. A prototype of this proposal has been installed in the streets of Brno, Czech Republic.
Taking inspiration from the circle of life, a grid of circles is painted with seating modules over it. One module consists of three seats and a round table marked with a circle around it. Once inside the circle, you can take your mask off but you have to wear it as soon as you step out of the circle.
Adjusting to this new normal life might take a while but it’s for the overall amelioration of the society. The post-pandemic architecture will not only affect the working lifestyle of people but will also alter their personal life. A new perspective, a new way of thinking this pandemic has brought and we have to make the best out of these hard times.