There seems to be a unique form of architecture and design aesthetics that defines every decade. Will the design trend of this decade be characterized by our adaptation and response to the pandemic?
Throughout thousands of years, architecture and design aesthetics have evolved by the influence and needs of climate, culture, religion, and lifestyles. While it may not drastically change some of the existing architecture and interior design principles, the latest Covid-19 pandemic will have an impact on shaping the future of interior, constructions, and design. This new normal has resulted in unique needs and requirements in our personal and working spaces which will change and influence building architecture and especially the interior design and spatial planning. As for the existing city center and buildings, there will be anticipated adjustments in structural and internal layouts.
Can selective materials on the interiors help reduce the risk of further spreading Covid-19?
Ortho Coronaviridae or commonly known as SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19, due to its heaviness, falls onto surfaces quickly. This infectious virus survives outside the human body on materials such as metals, glass, and plastics for hours. The infection behaves differently on all surfaces. In this quarantine, we are rethinking our requirements and needs, along with the “new normal”: from green areas and gardens, exploitable rooftops, natural light, and ventilation, balconies, and terraces, minimal and wholesome indoor environments, transitional and filtered entrances, and more.
People need to reassess and make necessary changes to our living spaces and conditions and also our spatial usage. It’s also crucial to take a more in-depth look at the building materials used, as this is a virus that accumulates on surfaces and sustains for days. In today’s construction methods and designs, we use multiple types of surfaces – Porous and Non-Porous.
What are Porous and Non-Porous surfaces?
Porous surfaces are materials that have more holes and allow liquids to flow through, as the molecular structure of these surfaces will enable them to have more space for absorption and airflow. Some examples of porous surfaces we commonly use today are drywalls, carpeting, wallpapers, acoustic ceilings, tiles, bricks, and more.
These surfaces don’t seem to be the right fit for usage due to its molecular structure, which is a threat and could house bacteria and viruses.
Non-Porous surfaces are denser and allow no absorption of liquid or air, for example, ceramic tiles, metal sinks, glass, metal cabinets, door handles, and more. Such materials are a healthier option in today’s times due to their ability not to let dirt and germs accumulate on them.
Hence, the selection of appropriate materials and usage proper of natural resources and passive energy will aid in maintaining the aesthetic and luxurious experience, while helping us live healthy lives with healthier home environments.
What are the “Wall Material” options of today’s time?
As viruses, molds, and bacteria are present everywhere, the current designs gravitate towards the usage of materials and finishes that offer antimicrobial protection. But to provide the interior of the structure with adequate antimicrobial protection, a hygienic coating for internal walls and floors is also required. This coating provides a surface that is easy to clean, is sustainable, and free from joints and seams and other features that might harbor dirt and bacteria. Fun Fact: “One of the latest examples in hygienic cladding as they are easy to clean, quick to install, cost-effective, durable, impact resistance and long-lasting, chemical resistant and they withstand temperature and dampness. As PVC is fire resistant and can be painted, it makes hygienic wall cladding easy to install.”
In regards to wall solutions, let’s talk about paint – it can be used for walls ceilings and floors. Most paint manufacturers offer additives that can be mixed with any color or finish to make it hygienic antimicrobial paint. One such venture that provides antimicrobial paint, which is said to repel 90% of the contamination, is “Bio Cote.”
Fabrics are one of the porous materials. Although they look great and are easy to maintain and washable, they house bugs such as microorganisms and insects. But fabrics can be enhanced for use with synthetic antimicrobials and insect repellents, which are quite useful but are slightly toxic for the human body and environment. Plenty of manufacturers use these toxic cancer-causing chemicals in glue and finishes. Although they can’t be avoided entirely, their exposure to humans can be significantly minimized but choosing less poisonous products.
What are the “Flooring and Countertop Material” options after Covid-19?
To decide what the best material would be for ‘hygienic flooring,’ it would have to depend on its purpose. There are countless flooring types such as carpet, vinyl, stone, wood, and tiling. But many materials provide the antimicrobial flooring finishes such as Bamboo flooring, which is an antifungal agent; Cork flooring, which comes from the cork oak tree that stops microorganisms or bacteria from growing; Put in place rubber flooring.
For years, Marble has been the most favored flooring choice in most celebrity homes, years old palaces, and even regular homes due to its aesthetic value, elegance, and durability. There are different types of marble such as – Calcutta marble, which is one of the rarest and the most expensive marble, comes in gold, white and grey colors; Carrara Marble, from Carrara, Italy, which is the most common and affordable and comes in white and grey color. The porous material would be difficult and time-consuming to clean, allowing bacterias and molds to grow. Although marble is easy to clean according to the FDF sanitizer criteria, marble, if scratched, will compromise the hygiene of the surface. Fun Fact: “Due to its low resistance to alkali, bleaching the marble surfaces will ruin them indefinitely.”
As Granite and other engineered stones have a high scratch resistance, they are deemed more hygienic.
Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, and used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass, and other suitable materials, and due to its sealed and non-porous quality, food and restaurant business, labs, and hospitals utilize it. Fun Fact: “Terrazzo surfaces can also improve the overall indoor air quality for public spaces.”
It’s inadvisable to use terrazzo for countertops in bars, washrooms, restaurants, kitchens as it shouldn’t be in constant contact with liquid substances.
Epoxy floors used widely in the commercial and industrial applications are resistant to a large number of chemicals, for example, solvents and acids. Hence, epoxy floors are present in warehouses, workshops, and production areas and unsuitable for office spaces.
It can be used in hospitals and restaurants as it’s completely seamless and antimicrobial.
Linoleum is a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) material and is among the most eco-friendly materials and also comes in various styles and colors. Fun Fact: “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals emitted from things like paint, glue, cleaning products, and are not good for the human body or the house.”
For Hospitality and Healthcare, it’s advisable to use “Hygienic floor coverings.” They are specifically designed for spaces where hygiene is of utmost importance and have an entirely seamless finish and are entirely slip-resistant.
Quartz is the hardest non-precious and non-porous stone that is scratch resistant and antimicrobial. It is the appropriate choice for countertops and is available in many different finishes, colors, and patterns and is indistinguishable from other natural stones, which makes it suitable for every style – traditional or modern. It is an engineered material made of 95% ground natural quartz and 5% polymer resins. Fun fact: “Resins help make quartz stainless and scratch-resistant.”
Agate, Tigereye, Petrified wood are all semi-precious stones that are also widely used for countertops as they are tasteful, scratch-resistant, and sustainable.
What materials can be used for “Fixtures and Hardware”?
Lead-free copper is naturally antimicrobial and does not need to be resealed and does not emit off-gases. It should be used in kitchen and bathroom fixtures, door and windows, and other fixtures around the house.
Copper is the trend of 2020.
Also, smart solutions – handsfree fixtures in the kitchen and bathrooms are available and are distributed by several manufacturers such as Delta and Wood, with very stylish options.
As the concerns regarding post-COVID-19 will change the architect and designer’s approach to design, simultaneously, the new parameters in construction will make the project viable, efficient, and cost-effective. The application of nanotechnology on architectural surfaces will be intensified to stop the spread of viruses via touch. These technologies can potentially kill germs on contact. By then, it is inevitable that many new architectural products such as doorknobs, lift buttons, toilet ware, and fittings to furniture and paint employing this technology will emerge in the market.
Sustainability, healthcare and design will further consolidate its status as an integral part of every approach, and projects will become more self-sufficient. We will look to establish fast responding structures, while already transforming existing underused spaces. Adaptive reuse approaches will become vital in our emergency responses, allowing for rapid action. The field of architecture and design would improve furthermore, as the world economy is suffering.