What will the Post-Pandemic world look like?
At the beginning of 2020, if you told some of our colleagues that by mid- March they would be working as a full time teacher, from the comfort of their kitchen table, they would have likely walked slowly backwards out of the room and written you off as insane. Or perhaps, they would have been even more concerned to know that the highlight of their social calendar would soon be a trip to the garden centre.
In the last few months, our homes have become so much more than a living room, kitchen, dining room and bedroom. They have had to radically transform into classrooms, sports halls, offices, cinemas and bars. We have valued every second of our hours’ worth of outdoor daily exercise and rediscovery of the beauty of our local areas.
Pre-pandemic Britain saw the average person spend 90% of their time indoors, which would have dramatically increased for those without access to a garden or a balcony, during lockdown.
The lockdown has shed light on an often-forgotten inequality, the inequality of space. Those of us who are lucky enough to have gardens have spent time outdoors, growing our own vegetables and becoming (often not very successful) gardeners. But what about those who do not have outdoor space?
In the past, councils have been quick to pick up and adapt the governments minimum space standards for interior space, but currently there are no guidelines for an outdoor minimum. Should we be moving towards a world where the access to outdoor space is a right? Will buyers and renters change their priorities toward a space that adapts around them and connects with the outdoors?
So how might this impact our concepts of design in the future and what have we learnt?
Over the last few years mental health has been at the forefront of our minds when making design decisions. In Sweden companies are engaging in workplace escapes where employees spend a week in nature, to decrease anxiety and stress levels within the workplace. This kind of connection to the outdoors is not new. Several studies have shown spending time in nature rapidly improves your health and happiness. Looking at this effect, how will this impact the built environment going forward? Will people return to the same lives we put on pause at the beginning of 2020, or will we look for new solutions?
Our view to residential design should take on these new changes and challenges to incorporate outdoor space in harmony with flexible interior design. Living a life from home has given us the perspective necessary to reassess how we make our design decisions and how they can impact our relationship with the outdoors. In a post-coronavirus world, we hope that our reconnection with family, nature and local communities can continue and start to sculpt a new view of how we can live.