Solutions are already being explored by real estate players, home developers, home interior designers, and furniture designers. Post-pandemic design will be more thoughtful. Our new homes will meet new criteria: hygiene-centric, more flexible, sustainable, bunker-like, and more regulated.
The ideal home will offer a repurposed entry area to leave our shoes, a sink near the door to wash our hands and face coverings, and a utility cupboard for our hygiene equipment. Easily cleanable surfaces will be favored, such as cork, copper and brass with anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties replacing plastic, glass and steel which are surfaces known to keep the coronavirus alive for the longest time. Housing developers are already including air and water filtration systems, touchless faucets, and bacteria-resistant paint in new houses.
Modularity will be key. Underutilized spaces will disappear. Rooms will be repurposed. Floor plans will adapt with more broken plans as “traditional rooms will be joined to form larger space by eliminating some of the partition walls that help to divide the rooms.” (Source: A9 Architecture, Broken Plan Living 2020). Open plan areas will foster community living, similar to a WeWork space - or should we call it a WeLive space? The space is flexible and gets reinvented throughout the day based on individual time slots, quality time with family members, and end-of-day social rendezvous: Working-from-home parents occupy the space during the workday, kids join for schoolwork times before family members come together to socialize in the evening. Storage will gain in importance as people seek more ways to conceal personal and household items.
Urban farming, air filtration systems, and energy-producing equipment such as solar panels and battery-charging stations, will become more popular for self-sufficiency, so that we don’t need to rely so much on the exterior. The home becomes a sort of danger-proof cell, providing a haven from a chaotic and threatening outside world. This will contribute to a gain in sustainability. More people will grow indoor gardens, or develop an underground basement with a garden, mini cheese factory, or a winery. Plus, gardening is calming. A zen space will become a must-have. Music, scents, vibrations, and calming pets, will all be part of the therapy. Walls will be repainted, furniture rehabilitated, backyard cabins remodeled.
The regulations that apply to office furniture and air quality in corporate offices will need to apply in our homes. Kitchen chairs need to be replaced with office chairs that enable ergonomic and productive work. These multi-purposed chairs must be portable to be easily moved out when the user switches to the traditional cooking or dining settings. Humidifiers will become more popular. Ambient technology, and dominetics will contribute to stimulate social interaction and preserve mental health. A hotline to a mental health specialist could be installed. The elderly, the fragile, and the lonely will be cared for from a distance, isolated at home, but connected to the world. Social animals in a safe harbor.
An everyday life to re-learn. Rules to reinvent.
Above all, we will apply the no-rule rule. Each home will need to be personalized, so each of us feels comfortable in our own space without the anxiety of wanting to leave when there is no viable escape outside.
The game is hard. But rules are not set in stone.