How Coronavirus will change the Architectural planning: Part 2
Life won’t be like before, when the lockdown gets lifted. Covid-19 is here to stay, and if we don’t take adequate measures and implement some changes, there is a new wave of coronavirus patients lining up.
This article is in continuation with the previous article, explaining the factors and reasons for change due to coronavirus pandemic. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly recommend to read the Part 1 here, before reading forward. Coronavirus is changing the way we lived, creating a silent havoc. I have only been able to focus on changes related to our homes and workplaces, and therefore, does not underline any changes in public spaces such as theaters, stadiums etc. As home & workplace is connected to every individual, it makes sense that nobody misses this article and is a must read for everyone. As mentioned in previous article too, this is written in simple language for easy understanding to a wider audience.
6 Changes in Architectural Planning
1. Introduction of a mandatory ‘Office Room’ even in small homes.
Today, millions of people have experienced what it feels like to be working from home. Most of the employees are under a lot of stress and exhaustion due to lack of coordination and implementation of work from home methods by the company. What we thought out to be easy, is turning out painful for many of us. Obviously, as time passes, these working methods will change in favour of better productivity of employees with implementation of appropriate softwares, management and interaction tools, taking off the pressure from working at home. Everything will start easing out except one thing-the place from where you are working. For the time being, you might have setup your workplace on the sofa, or the dining table or in the study area. But despite the comfort of a couch, you will notice the privacy issues and comfort of a well setup workplace which inspires you to work instead of oozing you off! That’s where people will start feeling the need of a dedicated office room, so that they can separate the ‘work’ from ‘home’. This will increase the productivity as well as keep you near to your home. Comfort is not the only factor for this new ‘office room’, but also the required physical installation which will take up the space for efficient functioning. It might be a new powerful workstation, a writing board, small study area, soft board, storage for office supplies etc. As you are going to work from home for the rest of your life, you will have to equip it with necessary stuffs. Now, let me ask you a question? Which factors influenced this theory, short term or long term? This is obviously a long term theory as this change will require time and it will be slow. Imagine newer residential construction selling their houses with office room included. It might be called 2BOHK or 3BOHK With ‘O’ standing for office room. The next generation might never experience this shift in planning as it will be very gradual, just as our generation did not realize the elimination of storage rooms and bunkers.
2. Open plan offices go ‘out’, retro office plans pave way ‘in’
The open plan office design was starting to dominate the present industry worldwide before facing a lockdown. The mere idea of collaboration behind the open office planning is now the greatest threat to mankind. With the preventive rule of maintaining 6ft distance between individuals, the open plan office seems to get buried in ashes. Due to this, offices might witness the revival of older office planning concepts such as action plan offices and the cubicle.
In the advent of maintaining social distancing, closed and widely spaced office arrangement might come as a breakthrough. Collaboration will take place with better conferencing and interaction softwares. Employees might be thrown into an acoustical box for noise-free interaction. But all these changes will take place on the idea that businesses can only be continued by physical means and won’t be favourable from working at home. These changes can also be termed as short term changes as these can be quickly implemented, to some extent, and businesses can be brought on track. Apart from planning, we can also witness addition and removal of certain activities. Biometrics will be completely eliminated. We can expect sanitizer dispenser right at the entrances and at points near water cooler, canteen, toilets etc. I don’t know if handshake will also become a history (LOL).
3. 6 feet office concept already introduced
As we discussed above, to bring businesses back quickly on track, it needs to implement changes to adhere to the social distancing rules. Addressing this issue, real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield have come up with a “6 feet” office design idea or a prototype which helps companies to redesign their offices according to their design parameters. This might eliminate the tiring part of critical thinking and speed up the process of building everything from scratch. You can read about their concept here.
4. Rise of Co-working offices
All these office prototype will only come to use if companies decide to have a full fledged or physical office or a part thereof. If companies move completely into remote working, in the wake of future threats, this idea will fail. But even if they chose to work remotely, they would still need a physical place to cater to smaller population of employees at one time, for discussions and many other activities. Even if these collaborations seem small, they can’t be ignored. On the other hand, companies can’t build and maintain an office area just for occasional meetings. Here’s where co-working office areas come to the rescue.
Co-working areas are office spaces which are shared among people and are charged along the usage. For example, if you plan for a meeting today of 2 hours, you can book and use the meeting room for 2 hours and pay only for that! Advantages? You don’t need to lease property, build interiors, maintain it and all the other hassles which comes with a physical office. Therefore, companies while working remotely, can use these co-working workstations or meeting rooms for their occasional meets. This will boost the number of co-working spaces in a city.
5. Personalized co-working spaces
Another factor which will give rise to the Co-working concept, is the non-availability of proper designated office room in today’s apartments and homes. As the inclusion of office room in planning and people adopting to it will take time, people would need a private temporary remote office which is in close proximity to their home as well as provide privacy and latest system requirements. An extended co-working office will help them out. These offices will have workstations with all the necessary upto date softwares and facilities for collaboration. Users can be charged on hourly, daily or monthly basis. Such co-working areas can be introduced in every city and towns so as to reduce the proximity and avoid longer travelling from homes. Existing commercial spaces can be converted to such co-working areas and offer exciting packages to users inviting them to work from their desk. For users too, it’s on the greener side. It saves upfront costs for users to setup all the technical stuffs at home and also losing on some part of their valuable space. Moreover, users will get privacy as well as a feeling of working in an office. As proximity is less, you can visit home very often and save on travelling costs. Therefore, in future, an office won’t be called as a workplace for a particular company, but as a workplace of different companies at a particular location. Also, all these offices must adhere to the social distancing and other policies to be functional.
6. Need for community farming
Essential food supplies was one of the major issues which we faced during this pandemic. Regions where vegetables needed to be imported, faced the maximum stress. On the other hand, towns and villages where there was local cultivation of vegetables, didn’t face a rough time. This highlights the fact that, there must always be a local source of cultivation which produces enough crops to sustain the region. This also saves cost and fuel arising out of transportation. Now the question arises, how to implement local farming? This question leads me to two of classmates’ thesis topics, which I think would serve as the best answer. First one is ‘Experience centre for the elderly’. You might think, what’s an old age home to do with Farming? Well there is! The topic is based on the idea that, the retired part of a person’s life is spent in a well designed community, amidst vertical farms of crops, which they themselves cultivate, reap and sell. This has two benefits. First, people are engaged into something which is fun, as the crops are not traditionally grown, but instead, with modern organic techniques which is sustainable. Secondly, the cultivation is also available for sale! Imagine such a community living in each of our locality, which produces and sells fresh veggies, everyday? Also, this idea is not just limited to old age homes, but in small communities and societies. Why can’t we cultivate using vertical farming techniques in our own society?
The large scale implementation of this idea is the second thesis topic. It suggests tower like structures consisting of just farming; Large scale cultivation on each of its floor. This saves a huge parcel of land for cultivation comparatively and is thus possible for implementation in areas where there is no land available for farming. These are too based on organic and sustainable farming techniques, so there is no consumption of energy and water from grid. These ideas would drastically change how we grow crops in India. I would say this change is not quick and guaranteed, but can act as a catalyst, if government takes a move. This pandemic might help people to think about the importance of local farming, and thus take an initiative for it.
These were 6 significant changes I could imagine of, during this lockdown. These are not assumptions, but is based on some critical thinking and research. Also to add, these are just few pieces of the cake, there is much more beyond our capabilities which would occur. I hope, there is no second wave of the disease and everything ends well soon. I would like to thank my classmates, Swaraj Patil and Akshay Tembe, for lending their thesis ideas to get posted. I would also thank my readers for supporting me and engaging actively in discussions. Please leave a comment and share this article amongst your friends to spread this thought.
He is a passionate architect from Virar, a small suburb of Mumbai. Apart from architecture, he is passionate about Film-making, programming, finances and dancing. He likes to be create-tive, which ultimately lead him in learning these diverse skills. Follow him on social networking platforms mentioned