2020 05 04

Letters from Lockdown: The future is about “forward to basics” says Francine Houben

04.05.2020 - Publications

Marina Engel, Architecture curator at the British School in Rome, asked architects from around the world to reflect on the design of cities for a post-Coronavirus world. To consider or dream about the future role of the architect on the interview series “Letters from Lockdown” with contributions from Francine Houben, Cino Zucchi, Yvonne Farrell, Stefano Boeri, Reinier de Graaf and Pippo Ciorra, published at The Developer.

Francine Houben: How do we reconnect space and people in a world after Covid-19? This moment challenges us to reimagine and rethink how we live together as a society and what our role as design professionals should be.

The future is about “forward to basics”.

I would like to reflect on this not only thinking about architecture practices, because architecture is all about multi-disciplinary teamwork. The lessons we learn from this pandemic will have a deep impact on the future of design, be it cities, public spaces, infrastructure, hospitality, learning environments, public buildings etc.

Going back to basics is not complacency, but rational. These words apply to everything architecture, design and urban planning should do. But what about the people?

Our lifestyle, habits, routines, travel and social interactions changed completely with most countries going into lockdown. We have all been directed to stay at home, take precautionary measures, maintain social distancing and even the corporate sector has directed its employees to work from home.

Yes, there is an emergency, but that doesn’t mean we should panic. I am very positive about the future, now it’s time to be resilient.


Over the past decades, encountering people all around the world has showed to me and underlined what everyone everywhere wants. The very simple things, to take care of their children and to be able to provide them with a better future. It’s about friends, family and communities.

I believe the human condition should be central to the future of design. We need to recognize the value of every individual, people’s engagement with each other, or culture, or nature, or in many cases a combination of both. Our attitude to Earth needs to change, nature has an irreplaceable value and beauty. It’s vital that we reconnect to it.

Read the full article at The Developer.
Photo by Roger Neve.

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