New Normals

Safe, connected and modular – the post-pandemic city living

10 December 2020

By Stefano Albè

The pandemic not only jeopardised our safety and our health, but has had a strong impact on our behaviour, as we try to adapt to new realities. While some of the changes are temporary, some will influence our habits and lifestyle choices for a long time. An example of this is the housing initiatives that have popped up since the pandemic.

During the lockdown, we saw a preference for greener, decongested and more spacious areas as people moved away from city centres. In Italy, this not only provided a solution to the problem of depopulation and extinction that had beset a third of the country’s villages, but also renewed the existing push to reimagine cities for a more sustainable and pleasant living.

Even with viable Covid-19 vaccines now seemingly available, societies around the world now know how vulnerable we are to pandemics and how city-dwelling exacerbates that risk. The question is then ‘how can we mitigate the effects of the next great disease before it happens?’

The pandemic has ushered in a new culture of living that favours the concept of “sensitive environments” and maximises the wellbeing of residents.

The Italian architect Stefano Boeri, famous for his distinctive tree-covered, high-rise apartments in Milan, is one of those answering these questions by rethinking the way we use space. His project in Albania for 12,000 residents close to the Tirana River is designed to be more sustainable and resilient to virus spread.

According to him: “the distribution of the main public services around three central offices arranged at a pedestrian distance from each other make Tirana Riverside a zero-emission polycentric district, containing all the essential services for citizens,” he said in Unione Architetti.

The pandemic has ushered in a new culture of living that favours the concept of “sensitive environments” and maximises the wellbeing of residents. The post-Covid-19 home must be modular, safe and connected.

We are moving towards a new model of socialisation, that is better connected and secure. 

Ori, a robotic furniture company short for origami, recently launched the pocket office: An almost-7-foot-tall sliding desk that, with the tap of an app, expands from a 30-inch-deep cabinet into a full-size desk with storage and library shelves. When sealed, it’s a sleek TV console with shelving and a Scandinavian aesthetic; when it opens, it splits down the middle to create an office nook with a retractable desk on one wall and a bookcase and standing-desk setup on the other.

Through digitisation and using personalised medicine, health centres, and hospitals will form a part of networked home care with a health care model that is mobile and directly accessible to homes. (Digital & Building Information Modeling Italy).

Buyers are now asking for all-inclusive housing solutions that prioritise physical safety and mental wellbeing. These means common areas designed in the most diverse, and connected ways. Easy access within reach from the gym to the condominium greenhouse or the Amazon locker room.

In the end, we are moving towards a new model of socialisation, that is better connected and secure. The houses and buildings go beyond the concept of living space, they become places that are as self-sufficient as possible, complete with services capable of withstanding the shockwave of a possible new pandemic and long periods of isolation.

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