The need to isolate ourselves at home has led to a whole new way of living. Our homes are also our workplaces, classrooms and gyms. For some, they’ve also become places to grow food and lead a more self-sufficient life.
This situation is likely to persist well into the future, as numerous questions about how and if we should return to our old ways of living and working remain unanswered.
It’s a daunting time, and yet it also provides an opportunity to do things differently. Architects, interior designers and builders are already rising to the challenge, and exciting new ideas about home design are beginning to emerge.
For many, working at home has meant hunching over a laptop at the kitchen table. This works in the short term, but is hardly ideal on a permanent basis. Workers and students need their own space so they can concentrate in comfort.
Similarly, as gyms remain closed, keeping fit means bouncing around the living room without tripping over the furniture. Architects are already considering home office and/or exercise space for future designs.
Of course, extra rooms aren’t always possible especially in urban areas, but there are other solutions. Dropdown work desks in living or dining rooms can be folded away when not in use, and sliding doors and screens can hide an office or gym. A divan bed in the spare room can be replaced with a folding bed to free up space for work, study, exercise or play.
With more people working and studying at home, utility bills will start to feel the strain. An increase in cost-effective, energy-efficient houses is particularly necessary. Well insulated, modular homes are already growing in popularity, which is welcome news when you consider how much heat is lost through poor insulation (and how high energy bills can be as a result).
Medical experts agree that COVID-19 is likely to be around for some time to come. This suggests advanced water and air filtration systems in the home (and workplace) will be necessities rather than luxuries.
Lack of outdoor space has been one of the major frustrations of lockdown. Most houses have at least a small garden and some flats have a balcony or patio. However, many homes don’t have anything. In normal times this is annoying, but when life revolves around the home for a prolonged period this situation becomes unbearable.
Architects are already looking at ways to maximise outdoor space. Flats can be built with balconies and rooftops turned into communal gardens, whilst areas between blocks may have more grass and trees and less concrete. Vertical gardens are already well established – a great solution when space is limited.
Green space also provides the means to grow your own produce. Food shortages caused by panic buying in recent months emphasised the frailty of the food supply chain, even in first-world countries.
This situation couldn’t have been envisaged even a few short months ago. Many people are now looking for a more self-sufficient lifestyle – a concept that was once a nice idea and now is fast becoming a necessity. Planners and builders are already seeing an increased demand for new designs allowing the incorporation of a bit of greenery, even where space is limited.