They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and India has been under lockdown for thrice that period of time. That’s enough time for those fortunate to have a home and means to survive to have analysed every corner of their residence—and formed a plan for what needs to change.
Architects and interiors designers believe that future and existing homeowners will look at their prospective and current residences with a new perspective, having survived many days stuck indoors.
In this time, they would have realised what they missed most, contingency measures they need and how to be prepared if such an unlikely situation were to recur.
Historically whenever there has been a pandemic (anywhere in the world), it has resulted in changes in design features, on the back of public health.
Right from the plague (in England) in the 1600s, which brought focus to sanitation, public health awareness allowed for heating and cooling of homes.
The great fires of London and Chicago set the tone for stone and brick to replace wood as a material for construction.
The development of the germ theory in the late 19th century brought attention to indoor air quality, ventilation and hygiene. Powder rooms were created near the front door so that visitors did not go into the house, for example.
And it is quite likely that Covid-19 too will catalyse some modifications to residential architecture and design in the future.
Open space will become more important than floor space
The lockdown has reinforced the need for open or outdoor-like spaces indoors. Whether this is a balcony or a porch or a courtyard, an area to access sunlight and open air has become an imperative—not necessarily just to bang on plates or to light candles.
People have craved for an outing and the closest they have been able to visualise it is by peeking out of large windows (if possible) and parking themselves in the balcony (if available).
Recent medical studies have indicated that people deficient in Vitamin D are more susceptible to the novel Coronavirus, further illuminating the need for sunlight.
Light and calming colours will be more popular
Coloured walls are already a thing of past, replaced with neutral shades and whites. People need calming colours, so they can spend longer hours at home without feeling anxious.
Light furnishings with bright, colourful linen and cushions in the living room for a renewed appreciation for spaces one might otherwise take for granted, while also embracing the idea of “conscious living”.
Homes will also have to include an office space
What might definitely become a requirement in the future is a home office—not just a study—a space where meetings can be held, clients can be invited, with access to office equipment like printers and, to stretch a wish list, a coffee machine.
Materials that provide acoustic insulation will be needed to create home offices that minimise distraction, she adds. Lighting in homes would have to be designed based also on getting the right framing—in case of a Zoom meeting.
Multi-use furniture will allow for efficient space allocation
A simple example is the use of a study instead of dresser in a clever way of incorporating workspace. The table top can host the laptop while a mirror above can make it a dresser.
We have learnt to be self-sufficient. Like having user-friendly kitchens because home owners, not just house staff, will also use the utilities. Now, as a world, we will do a lot of work from home.
Budget will be on everyone’s mind
With businesses and the economy down, with pay cuts and job losses looming, clients would also become more sensitive to budgets—at least in the short-term. Using furniture for dual purposes or smart ways be more cost effective.
Warm and earthy materials like timber and cane have a distinct aesthetic character. They not only age gracefully but also retain their strength.
At the same time, celebrating local materials, which are more accessible, will be essential to suit economic and environmental interests.
Home tech will take over
Already, modern homes rely substantially on technology—and not just the Alexa kind. Touch-free doors, lights, taps etc. may become a norm, particularly in places that host people and parties, but want to maintain a certain degree of hygiene.
The now forgotten letterbox could become a self-sanitising pick-up box for home deliveries.
Maybe the number of doors in the house would reduce, allowing for other ways of maintaining privacy, like air curtains that give visual instead of audio separations.
Greenery indoors will allow for therapeutic living
We can add plants to the house, which bring positivity. Not everyone can have a backyard or a garden.
After this lockdown, people would want to make their home conducive to therapeutic living. If you spending all day indoors, it gets depressing and you need positive energy.
Homeowners are becoming increasingly conscious of lowering heir carbon footprint on the plane. Inclusion of indoor plants, green walls, flower beds, etc. has a profound effect on occupant well-being.
With little warning, COVID-19 is changing everything about our lives but as it is commonly said – “Change is the only constant”. While the future may seem uncertain it is also definitely fertile ground, ripe with opportunities!