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Is it time for a change?

Spring 2020 saw our homes step up to play a critical role during the global crisis which consumed daily lives around the world.

The four walls we each call home were elevated to ever-more crucial components of our support system on a myriad of new levels almost overnight. They have helped equip us to face the challenges of the time, as well as evolving into space for learning and earning for many.

Whether we have felt safe or stifled, our homes have held us through this time. And the architecture and design of these spaces will continue to navigate us through a time of uncertainty and endurance.

But how might this moment in time influence architects and designers to create new homes equipped for an inter-pandemic era?

Make it flexible.

For homes to be future-proofed, their design and focus need to accommodate multi-functional spaces which can be altered and adapted to flex with the ebb and flow of both everyday life and periods of exceptional circumstances. Floorplans laid in place by architects and designers could come to be viewed as a starting point or suggestion, rather than an absolute, in relation to the purpose of individual rooms.

And in recognition that our mental and emotional health will always require moments alone, the perennially preferred open-plan layouts could evolve to encompass nooks and secluded spaces to allow for solitary moments that can support our individual wellness.

Take a deep breath.

Air pollution isn’t something we commonly think of within our homes but paints, finishes and adhesives all emit invisible pollutants into the air in our homes and can become a potent cocktail to breathe in daily.

NASA’s Clean Air Study considered the ‘sick building syndrome’ where toxins found in synthetic materials become concentrated inside buildings. They found simply bringing a little of the outdoors in, with a number of air-purifying plants could help detoxify your home from the airborne toxins, dust and germs.

And for our long term health at home, VOC-free paints and finishes and formaldehyde-free building materials should become the industry standard, not the environmentally-friendly exception.

Hardworking and humble. 

The practicalities of the home may see new emphasis. Rooms and furniture that previously only need function to a certain level may now be looked at anew and given greater prominence.

Practical storage in the form of larders and utility rooms could climb the architectural agenda as an integral component to keep homes well-stocked and easily equipped to deal with both practicalities of everyday life and the focus of exceptional circumstances.

The importance of hardworking, humble spaces could become more clearly defined. Utilitarian spaces like the porch, utility room or hallway could be more closely considered, decluttered and delineated with alternative flooring (using naturally antibacterial surfaces like cork perhaps) and finishes. These functional touchpoints within the home, that have worked hard in recent times, might rise up the ranks to assume new influence in architectural and design plans.

Develop downtime.

Pegboard shelves in birch plyIt has become clear that our homes can struggle to support and promote downtime or ‘active rest’ (an engaged use of downtime that naturally counteracts stress as well as supporting resilience and good immune function) as they can lack clear, focused areas in which to dedicate time.

Our enforced lockdown saw those that could embrace the available downtime, with surges of interest in everything from baking to board games changing how we interact with our homes, giving them a new focus. This indicates that the desire for downtime is there, if not the actual time and space within our homes dedicated to it.

And so, the ability to zone our homes to promote and sustain a focus on healthy new habits that replenish our reserves could become an important consideration in how we furnish our homes. Multi-functional furniture could increasingly be used to keep spaces flexible, allowing living spaces to rise to the challenge of instinctively integrating healthy routines and habits into everyday life.

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Categories:Interiors & Lifestyle