Post-Pandemic House Design
The pandemic has brought about a wide acceptance of work-from-home policies and telecommuting, as well as a level of difficulty for the professional world. Since the pandemic started, people are now using their homes simultaneously as offices, classrooms, co-working spaces, entertaining spaces, conference rooms, and gyms with multiple users. In fact, people sometimes use adjustable walls, while having to deal with the consequences of the open floor plan. This closer connection makes a chunk of people uncomfortable.
Furthermore, some people use guest bedrooms--now converted to a dedicated space for offices in order to get some privacy, while others are at the dining round table . Some are set up in master bedrooms, further blurring the ever-important line between work and home. As people try to find a meaningful connection in these transitional spaces, they are beginning to value their adaptable living spaces, and looking for additional living space more than before as they plan their future homes. The increase in peoples’ desire for additional space and bonus spaces in future projects, with emphasis on health, has made the average building firm (and architecture firm) make spaces more functional and fluid in their purposes for a residential design.
Still, there has been a post-COVID world housing crisis in many countries. People are struggling to find affordable places to live or affordable-housing projects to buy, and some people have experienced homelessness. For others, access to landscape, buildings in cities, and additional storage space have been huge obstacles. As a result, we are now seeing the post-apocalyptic designs of homes that have emerged with this new reality, but what is post-pandemic home design?
The post-pandemic house design trend sometimes involves using sustainable materials for construction (such as using quality bamboo or straw bales for the wall) with adaptable spaces, indoor air quality. Keeping mental health in mind during such a project, a creative director for the project is necessary for these natural building materials. Some of these materials can be found locally and produce less waste than more conventional materials , such as wood or concrete bricks. They also offer insulation benefits and natural ventilation during colder months when fuel costs are high. The post pandemic house design has also now caused underutilized spaces to be used in varying ways, from mudrooms being transitioned into temporary offices to living rooms becoming spaces for physical activity.
With the present pandemic, how does the array of activity spaces we live and eat and play in allow for functional and separate use for work? How do smaller spaces perform multiple duties, but still create a separation of work life and home life? At Designer Homes, we consider how residential designs might change in the post pandemic world.
How Post Pandemic Might Change House Designs
The following includes how house designs may change in the post pandemic world:
Different Spatial Experiences
Your productivity and mental health may suffer if you spend all your time at home. Spatial diversity is key to combating this potential malaise.
While bright, open spaces are great for relaxing, they can be distracting and noisy for working. An area for focusing is equally important but often ignored. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, many people worked from home, necessitating acoustically private areas away from noisy areas. These quiet spots are ideal for phone calls and file storage.
However, some of our clients prefer large, casual dining tables that can also be used as co-working spaces. Others prefer a sunny and verdant virtual meeting background. Having multiple spaces is great for changing environments based on the task.
We now work with clients who want to build a home that can grow with their families. While a household size isn’t determined at the time of construction, we often create rooms that can be easily divided into two.
This can be used to quickly create two offices or two private bedrooms for events, such as a quarantine. For example, one of our current projects has a study and a large gym with its own bathroom. If needed, the gym can be converted into a full bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and closet. The original bathroom becomes the study. The back-to-back bathrooms share a pre-plumbed wall for a second bathroom, allowing for future use.
Since people are now being sprayed by a disinfectant machine as they enter public buildings, a similar concept may arise at residences. To keep homes safe and clean, entryways will become clearly defined transitional spaces where one can remove their shoes, hang their jackets, and sanitize their hands before entering.
Air Purification Systems
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, air quality has been a major focus. People may start paying more attention to their indoor air quality by limiting unfiltered outside air entry. We may see more air purification systems, which collect outside air, clean it, and re-inject it into buildings. These systems can be used with HVAC to make homes healthier.
Increase in Adaptable Layouts
Our emotional and physical ties to our homes have never been stronger, and this may continue after the pandemic. As a result, homes will need to accommodate more services and functions. More specific spaces for reading, napping, exercise, and entertainment will be desired.
More activity spaces will necessitate more flexibility and adaptability. Designers have already started exploring this possibility. At Designer Homes, we use movable walls and screens to divide an open-plan apartment into separate areas. Components like folding glass doors allow for seamless indoor-outdoor transitions.
As people prefer to stay at home, the importance of kitchens in homes has increased. To avoid frequent shopping trips, pantries will become more important. The rise of the hands-free mindset will also increase the importance of smart kitchen design. Lighting, faucets, and appliances can all be controlled by voice commands.
New ‘Home Office’
As more people work from home, many dining room tables have become home offices. Although many people no longer have to rush between crowded trains to get to work, these new “offices” lack essential amenities for a productive workplace. However, many people enjoy the flexibility of working from home, to the point where human resource experts predict it may become the new norm. If this happens, there will be a growing demand for functional home offices. Some have even imagined home offices in private outdoor areas. Some ideas include building a workspace into a home’s front garden, giving the illusion of leaving the house to work. Transitional or mudrooms with sanitation sections may also be on the rise.
Need for Private Outdoor Space
People’s appreciation of nature and the outdoors seems to have increased since the pandemic began. Going for a walk or sitting in a park has been a huge source of relief. These activities aren’t safe and aren’t universally accessible during a lockdown.
As a result, home designers will be more in demand to create private outdoor spaces for all types of homes. Architects will have to experiment with roof gardens, micro-backyards, porches, and balconies to bring the outdoors inside even the smallest homes. People may also want a closer connection between their homes and the natural world, which folding glass doors provide.
Hygiene-focused House Designing
Everyone’s concern will be hygiene. Materials will be modified to allow for deep cleaning. Antibacterial materials like copper, linen and some woods may gain popularity. Materials will still be location-specific, but I expect to see more polished plasters, limestone, and marbles used due to their durability.
Cleanliness will be an important factor in home design. Cleanliness can be promoted through both spatial and material design. Soaking wet packages and groceries can help keep them fresher longer. Future projects may include more “dirty” versus “sterile” house designations. Porous materials are difficult to clean and disinfect. Most of our projects use wood or concrete floors, but as material science advances, antimicrobial floors and countertops may be considered.
Space for Mental and Physical Health
When popular classes and bootcamps are unavailable, home gyms become more appealing. Some people need a full setup with weights and machines, while others need an open area to stream a workout. A sense of normalcy can be maintained in a chaotic situation by moving and exercising at home. A freestanding home gym in the backyard per say. This will create a zen-like space for exercise and meditation. Walking into a new building can cause a mental shift.
Indoor Environmental Quality
With the global shutdown reducing air pollution in major cities, people are allowing more natural ventilation into their homes. In addition to what comes in through the windows, many other factors affect indoor air quality. It is recommended an inexpensive air quality sensor that monitors CO2, RH, and chemical toxins (VOCs) be used, to give an alert when the indoor air quality deteriorates so we can make changes. For example, confined spaces or rooms with poor ventilation may have higher CO2 levels, causing headaches, fatigue, and decreased productivity. Increased mechanical or natural ventilation can help reduce unhealthy CO2 levels.
Maintaining healthy relative humidity levels (50-60%) helps our mucus membranes in the nose and throat defend against airborne pathogens like the coronavirus. Mold growth and allergies can occur in damp areas of the home if the humidity levels are too high (>65%). If relative humidity levels fall outside the 40-65 percent range, a humidifier or dehumidifier can be used to restore relative humidity.
The impact of new interior furnishings and cleaning products on our air quality has also been highlighted. Having the air quality sensor alert you when VOCs reach unhealthy levels will allow you to open a window or turn on an air purifier to mitigate the impact.