We’re not the only ones eyeing our homes’ designs while sheltering in place. Also closely examining residential America are architects and designers. Many believe the pandemic’s effects will alter the look and function of tomorrow’s single- and multi-family residences.
Ways change could shape future homes are constrained only by architects’ imaginations. Homes of tomorrow could feature furniture with antimicrobial and easy-to-clean fabrics and materials. They could include storage for cleaning supplies and frozen foods, adaptable room layouts to allow for multiple functions from bedroom to home gyms, and touchless sensor-operated appliances to limit germ spread from one household occupant to another.
What follows are five individual architects’ and designers’ views on how COVID-19 will influence the residential design we glimse in the post-COVID world.
At DMAC Architecture in Evanston, Ill., founder and principal Dwayne MacEwan feels the next generation of buyers may seek homes featuring more defined or adaptable living spaces and working spaces. That’s because COVID-19 has fully taught us the limits of productivity while working from the living and working spaces of today’s homes, he notes.
“For some families, [it] might mean multiple adults need work space,” he says. “As education re-evaluates distance learning, it might also mean students in the family need workspace. In a multifamily situation, maybe that means space within the building for a ‘We Work’ option. Obviously, working from home is not a panacea for everyone. But this pandemic has certainly shown us we are capable of being as productive given a conducive work environment at home and access to the right tools.”
The long-term impact of the global crisis will be a demand for residences that are versatile, functional, modular and adaptable to sudden lifestyle changes. So says Jario Vives, lead architect at Pininfarina in Cambiano, Italy.
Multifunctional rooms will be a must, so post-COVID use of spaces with static, unchanging purposes will be as passe as compulsory face masks.
“Modular in this context means there is a predetermined system that allows for flexibility,” Vives says. “There are some well-designed modular furniture options that come as pre-made units, but can then be combined in different ways to furnish a room. We have also seen some robotic furniture systems that can transform or create more space as needed to match the way we live, work, eat, relax, exercise and more in our homes.”
Look for a diminished luxury market as the finances of older adults struggle to rebound from COVID-19, opines Daun St. Amand, AIA, senior vice president and office leader in the Los Angeles, Calif. office of CallisonRTKL. Given this changeover, there will come drastic changes in the interior design and architectural components of homes.
“To create uplifting environments within smaller units, it will be necessary to integrate elements that naturally make the space feel bigger, ranging from the lighting selection and air quality [to] the views,” St. Amand says. “Storage will play a huge role as developers begin to cut down the size of units.” Refrigerated storage will be more prominent, he adds.
The pandemic will give added impetus to a recent trend in which the kitchen has been lifted to heart-of-home status. “We are going back to basics, thinking first of the things we need that are crucial, not things we need to impress people or to make a statement,” says Mary Maydan, founder and principal of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Maydan Architects. The lament of some recent clients of the firm — that storage needlessly wastes space — is unlikely to be heard as frequently. “Everyone will want ample storage after this,” she predicts.
David Shove-Brown, co founder and principal of //3877, believes functional square footage will be more important than ever. Post pandemic, folks will find new spaces – such as retrofitted garages — to serve as dedicated work-from-home settings.
“The notion of our environment affecting our wellbeing isn’t a new one,” he adds. “The current reality has made it a hard perspective to ignore.”