Pandemic-proof Properties

category - covid-19
category - future city
sector - travel & hospitality
type - market focus
Market Focus
Lockdown has highlighted the health impacts of life in isolation. We forecast how the design of our future homes and interiors will strengthen human wellbeing

The outbreak of Covid-19 has turned public spaces into no-go zones and forced the majority of the world to retreat into their flats and houses. For those living in high-density city neighbourhoods, tenement buildings or shared houses, the pandemic has revealed many of the flaws of modern urban living relating to overcrowding and sub-standard interior layouts – and their potential to power the spread of such viruses.

‘The consequences of Covid-19 will be at an urban health level and the built environment will play a key role in both contagion and resilience,’ explains Araceli Camargo, co-founder of Centric Lab, which uses data to respond to urban health challenges.

Living through the 2020 lockdown, one thing is becoming clear: the lack of space in our residential homes – often occupied by groups of adults or multi-generational families – is a risk to both our physical and mental wellbeing. ‘The pandemic is making visible a collective architectural problem – for a lot of people, their houses are not designed and built for spending a great deal of time in,’ Des Fitzgerald, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Exeter, tells Wired.


Published by:

27 August 2020

Author: Kathryn Bishop

Image: Cloud Housing by Lucia Tahan demonstrates a future in which the home will be transformed into a platform for digital content


Handy Capsule Sanitation Kit by Kiran Zhu, China

This is particularly pertinent where the size and layout of homes are concerned. According to researchers at University College London, the average size of housing in England is small when compared to the rest of Europe. Only 30% of the dwellings created through the trend for office-to-home conversions meet the suggested national space standards for new homes.

In Japan – a nation known for tightly-packed micro living – rental company Kasoku is offering furnished apartments as ‘temporary shelters’ to help people find space and relief from their family, housemates or partner for around £31.95 ($40, €36.60) a day.

We need to start rethinking our domestic dwellings as more than just homes. With remote working and higher hygiene standards already becoming the new normal, the design and layout of our properties need to follow suit and adapt to 24/7 occupation.

In this feature, we future gaze towards life in 2030 and speculate what this could look like. After all, this won’t be the last global crisis we need shelter inside from. ‘Recurring epidemics are, like climate change, essentially manmade disasters, born of poor health and sanitary standards, the abuse of natural systems, and the growing interconnectivity of a globalised world,’ Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, writes in The Guardian. ‘Pandemics and the many morbid symptoms of climate change will become more frequent, severe, and costly in the years ahead.’

'The pandemic is making visible a collective architectural problem – houses not designed for spending a great deal of time in'
Des Fitzgerald, associate professor of sociology, University of Exeter

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