The COVID-19 crisis has put our way of living under review. We know that this pandemic is not a one-off event. Viral outbreaks have occurred in the past, and they will happen again in the future in our high-density, globalized world. If this time we want to be prepared, we need to re-design our way of living. Lately, resilient cities have been a big research topic. In 2020 we discovered that our homes must be resilient as well.
With social distancing, borders of private and public drastically changed in a matter of days. Homes became the only place we people were considered safe, shielded from friends, neighbors and even family. But what is the extent of homes? Are collective spaces in buildings still safe? Should we design our homes for quick changes between private and public domains?
Connection with others (emotional or physical) and a sense of community are fundamental human needs. Further isolation can be highly problematic in a world where we are already suffering from a loneliness epidemic. Nowadays, we have a huge diversity of households. The traditional nuclear family is not as common as it once was. The number of single-parent families and extended families are increasing, and more importantly, many people live alone.
The sudden confinement to people’s houses could have a serious impact on mental health. How can achieve both social distancing and social connection? Should we re-define the “household” in a way where we, under all circumstances, ensure a sense of community?
In the past few months, the importance of public spaces of quality has been reinforced. In many countries people could leave their homes for a walk, whilst adhering to the safety measures of social distancing. Being confined to a home, we realise how much we rely on outdoor space, both private and shared. How can we safely integrate outdoor space for everyone in the future of housing?
This also brings the inequality between rich and poor to the surface. Being constricted to a villa with a garden is not comparable to being isolated in a tiny space under poor living conditions. In addition, high-density housing may no longer meet the hygiene requirements of the post-COVID world. How can we create an affordable quality of life for the ones who are suffering the most in these crises?
To be continued...