Since times immemorial, an abode has been one of the three major requirements – roti, kapda aur makan (food, clothing, and shelter). Remember the first few architectural history lectures? How primitive man strived to arrange a shelter? How would he have survived without caves, huge carcasses enveloped with birch, leaves, and animal skin? He would have surely become a victim of lightning and wild animals. These are the forces of nature. But architecture also saved cities and kingdoms from the forces of greed, ambition, and power.
Years came and passed, timelines changed, and architecture also changed. The year 2020 knocked, bringing itself with a virus having a king-like crown that made everyone its slave. It was the time that no one expected, no one wanted—a totally new experience for mankind. The conventional ways of doing things changed, and so did the architectural practices, but architecture did not fail to help humans in their existence.
Online classes, students in hometowns
College life was reduced from 5 to 3 years. There were no studios, no late-night group discussions, no paper, no sheets. Architecture saw a new shift – from practical to online. Everyone shifted to digital means. No one could have ever imagined that one-day architectural design studios would be taking place on computer screens. A major part of the classes was ‘Am I audible?’ and ‘Your screen is not visible.’ There were not any moments of cutting the finger while making the model and looking at the model before the finger to make sure that it did not get a blood stain. The excuses for escaping juries and classes switched from ‘not feeling well’ to ‘improper internet connection.’
Mail, WhatsApp groups, and online meeting platforms like Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Zoom meetings were the new companions. Deprived of the chance to visit the site, Google Earth was the only hope. Expecting college trips were like making castles in the air. The physical world converged to just 4 walls, but the digital world opened its arms to the entire sphere. Professionals from all around the globe were now connecting and sharing their wisdom with the budding architecture community. The budding architects were also in their hometowns and started looking at their own neighborhoods, understanding local problems, and trying to figure out solutions.
Internships and jobs
Work from home, freelance
The architectural projects were shut, and the sites were no man’s land. The workmen were struggling to return to their hometowns. As a result, there was a famine of internships and jobs. Neither employees had the nerve to leave their homes, nor did the employers have the courage to take the risk. Consequently, ‘work from home’ and ‘freelance’ architectural practices came into being.
Planning after covid, ventilation and open spaces, furniture design
Masses had the longing for only two things – ration and medication. But architecture was hiding in plain sight, sustaining the existence of humans. Where would a human have sheltered himself amidst such a contagious environment without having an entity called a ‘house’? The lockdown was there outside the houses, but inside them, realizations were unlocked. There was a realization that good and sensible architecture was also the need of the hour. People realized how clustered the homes were without any scope of even a single plant and no window allowing the fresh air and the sun to come in.
People realized the importance of open spaces, ventilation, and sync between private and public spaces. It was a strenuous task to live in those boxes for infinite times. Minute changes in the layouts could now be seen, such as a wash basin at the entrance of the house, more green spaces etc. Schools and commercials were surely on halt, but then there was a new type of architecture that was making its way – co-working spaces, isolation wards, movable hospitals, temporary structures, etc. Not only buildings but the furniture design also did not remain untouched. Furniture pieces were made that could be ordered and assembled on-site and could be easily disposed of.
At last, it can be concluded that, like other industries, architecture also witnessed a lot of changes due to the pandemic. The academics and the profession were now adapted to new ways. It was made clear that architecture is one of the most important disciplines in one’s life, and its presence cannot be ignored. Architecture served to prevent, heal, and fight. It was again proved that architecture is so much related to humans that it is the result of how one is practicing his/ her life. However, covid has receded back, but it has everlasting impacts on how architecture is practiced. While bidding farewell to the pandemic, one should not forget that it has taught us the way of life. Open and green spaces and hygienic surroundings should be a part of every design.