A fascinating article by Ukrainian architect Sergey Makhno published last month in Dezeen, an online architecture, interiors and design magazine based in London, provides insight on how our homes may change in response to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Makhno writes, “Values will change, our lives and habits will change, and our homes will also change.”
Here are three of his predictions:
- Houses, not apartments.
Makhno’s argument is that apartment buildings were designed to house as
many people as possible in one place, before health and hygiene were as important as they are right now. During a pandemic, it’s important to reduce contact with everything used in an apartment building, he writes, including elevator, elevator buttons, door handles, surfaces and, above all, neighbors.
More than an escape from urban closeness and congestion, the house now offers a retreat from viruses and infections. Makhno believes urbanization will take a step back as people relocate to small towns and city suburbs.
- Bunkers better than open plan
Makhno reminds us that survivalists – those expecting the apocalypse – have been fortifying homes and buildings for a while now. The pandemic may encourage more people to identify spaces they would like to fortify – not necessarily because they believe the apocalypse is imminent, but because future pandemics or the consequences of climate change may make them practical. This might be a garage or basement, attic or something Makhno calls a “hopper” – an area of the home fortified with a pantry for food, water and some basic medical supplies.
In addition, he believes the pandemic will spell the end of the open floo
r plan, where the entrance, living room, dining space and kitchen are pretty much all together, as privacy becomes more valuable than ever, because…
- Home is the new office
Writes Makhno: “During quarantine, most are forced to work from home. There will be people who will, on the first day after the quarantine, race to meet colleagues and drink that office coffee. But there will be those who will not want to return to the office.
“More attention will be given to the arrangement of the workplace at home. Spatial organization will change, with the place to work at home no longer a desk with a chair and a lamp, slotted somewhere in the corner of the living room or under the stai
rs. Now it will be a completely separate room with large windows, blackout curtains and comfortable furniture. It will be technically equipped and sound-insulated.
In response, offices will make more effort to win us back because everything that the top companies have will become commonplace.”
Makhno’s article also covers more “radical” changes (or just radical to me), including homes with self-sufficient power and water in case the grid goes down; water and air filtration systems in case a virus gets into the water supply; the global growth of urban farming; and rejection of mass industry because the new world will be about thin
gs that matter. “There will be fewer objects,” suggests Makhno, “and they will be chosen more responsibly. More questions will be asked: are they made of natural materials? Does their production harm the planet? In addition, governments will have to maintain local manufacturers to restore economic performance. Once you leave export and import, you will no longer be such frivolous cosmopolitans.”
In closing, he advises us to wash our hands, stay at home and help create a new, worthy life that the planet will no longer want to lose.
Sounds right to me.