Covid-19 and its Impact on your Architect

The Coronavirus outbreak took the entire world by storm. Overnight new restrictions were placed on individuals and businesses alike. We have all gotten used to the “new normal” and we have had to adapt in order to survive and thrive. Throughout the year we have watched businesses and industries around the globe transforming the way they conduct business. One industry that has had to revolutionize its conduct of business more than most is the architectural industry.

The results of the pandemic will undoubtedly create a push for self-sufficiency where we live as many people continue to work from home. Daily workouts are now taking place in the living room. Due to food shortages, kitchen storage has changed dramatically. Many have been turning to old-style preservative methods to store perishable food.  Our homes will likely include dedicated home offices, larger yards for gardens and outdoor activities, home gyms, and the additional food cellar. These changes will impact the Architect and his home design.

Offices, restaurants, and retail spaces will also look different. Co-working spaces may be a thing of the past.  Several studies have forecasted a radical change to office space with the new ‘6-foot office.’ Here all personal spaces will be increased to six feet apart.

Department stores may implement the layout used in IKEA stores.  Their unique design incorporates a one-way system that leads customers counter-clockwise along what they call ‘the long natural way.  Many stores may adapt the IKEA standard pushing all customers in one direction. This flow creates a safer shopping experience for customers as well as employees.

In the restaurant world, privatized rooms may be preferred over large gathering halls.  For example, restaurants could follow an Asian culture of individual rooms over an open eating area. 

The American Institute of Architects recently released a re-occupancy assessment tool to help provide guidelines for limiting exposure to the coronavirus in buildings.  HVAC standards will likely become stricter as ventilation systems will be installed that allow for removing potentially contaminated air from any given area. It is reasonable to conclude that concerns about future viruses might encourage architects to design with an eye toward open spaces. These new designs will enable and encourage people to live more spread out. All of these changes are leading to questions that Architects around the world are mulling over:

  • Will the need for social distancing affect occupancy standards?
  • Will the recommendation for greater oversight of indoor air quality be standard?
  • Will touch-less technology be mandated in public buildings?

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has led many in the design community to reevaluate their life’s work.  What will it mean to design for a world that will never be the same? Architects and designers alike must collectively gather, exchange ideas and insight, to create a future that is sustainable with or without the threat of a new virus.


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