pandemic-ready architecture

Over the past few months, I’ve been approached by both academia and industry to contribute to a dialogue [online of course] relating to the future of architecture, urban design, the global economy and how we will work, live and play as we continue to live with the current and [inevitable] future pandemics.

Other topics included whether high density living is still a viable housing model [yes it is] and if so, what needs to happen to achieve a safe and healthy environment.  And on a grander scale and possibly philosophical level – what does sustainability really mean now?

Currently on our [metaphorical and literal] drawing board – we’ve been commissioned to design multi-unit developments and single residential homes with briefs that are specific to what we have now internally termed Pandemic-Ready Architecture.  Design principles evolved from our previous experiences in designing for disease control such as the Ronald McDonald House Perth became the foundations for these homes.

So what is Pandemic-Ready Architecture?

Pandemic-Ready Architecture goes beyond space planning and technology in preparation for lock-downs, self-isolation/quarantine, working-from-home and zoning.  All of which, with a few minor tweaks, any properly designed modern medical facility can easily achieve.  However, our approach is about designing empathetically, sympathetically and aesthetically, not just a mechanical response to a crisis. It is a human centred and organic approach.

What happens to the family if one or more member/s becomes ill?  How can design assist with the co-existence between the ill and the healthy?  How will the occupants maintain meaningful communication and interaction with one another during a pandemic?  Where and how will resources be stored?  How will the family dynamics change once everyone is at home 24/7 during a lock-down?  How can a house accommodate for the challenges of working-from-home in more ways than just setting up a home office [online meetings with screaming kids in the background!]?  How do you maintain normalcy amidst the mayhem?  How do you create a secure safe-haven without looking like an underground concrete bomb-shelter of a doomsday prepper?

And for more public typologies [retail stores, food establishments, hotels, offices, service industry, industrial, food establishments, gyms etc] – how will social distancing be maintained as part of a designed solution?  Can the premise adapt to changes to staff and patron numbers?  Can barriers be designed to be less clinical and confronting?

Contact us if you’re interested in this dialogue and in retro-fitting or designing your home, business or development to be Pandemic-Ready.