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  • Benedita Macedo Sampaio

Questions architects have to answer in the new age of social distancing and hyper surveillance.


Viruses will pass, but our definition of spaces where we live, work, and play will be reshaped permanently. Here are some questions architects and designers have to answer in the post-covid time.


Recently, people’s perception of spaces has been completely reshaped by the global pandemic. Although complete social distancing are temporary measures, our relationship with spaces we live, work, and play will be for sure changed even after the virus passes. As architects, we will have to rethink user experience in confined spaces, break the boundaries of indoors and outdoors, design flexible and versatile homes, and readapt priority when designing social spaces. It is important for architects and designers to provide the best vaccine against viruses: our home and our routine.


The effect of social isolation and quarantine on the users calls for green systems that provide more oxygen to the interior of homes. Outdoor spaces, such as gardens, patios, balconies, terraces, etc. are increasingly valued. The desire to live in condos and penthouses is at question. Increasingly we value isolated homes, which do not share common spaces or elevators. We avoid shopping malls and supermarkets. We seek vitamin D. The need for more diversified spaces inside the house, such as home office and food storage, becomes essential. Creative ways to adapt confined spaces and increase green exposure indoors will be crucial for achieving a balanced lifestyle.


Changes will not only be required in home designs, new forms of social connectivity, transit, healthcare, shopping are all calling for new design principles. Hyper surveillance, drones and cameras, are also now recognized as increasing threats to our privacy in social spaces. Some countries already allow the collection and tracking of the movement data of each building's inhabitants. The surveillance may extend from controlled environments, to outdoor spaces - public squares, streets, and parks. What will it be like to live in such a city?


At the same time other issues are raised, concerning the design of our houses or apartments, and whether they affect our privacy. The window, the glass and the curtain are architectural elements that must be studied in the design due to its importance of privacy control. The way we see and travel the world is changing. On one hand, we speak of our individual wills and concerns, escaping social confrontation and fleeing these common buildings and common social sharing. On the other hand, it is so impregnated that once again technology will probably be the way that can prevent viruses from entering living spaces. The incorporation in buildings of hard materials and resistant to bacteria, automatic doors, the study of how ventilation inside a hospital can improve its health. Challenging topics will be under pertinent discussion among architects and designers.



Finding new ways to coexistence at this pandemic time is the real issue. How do we want to live? As architects we have the tools to redesign and redefine these spatial models, We believe that the knowledge that we will have acquired from the pandemic will lead us to the physical and emotional stability we wish for. Our role as architects should be more than ever updated to the needs of the inhabitants of 2020.


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