Miami Green Homes


Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home – Part II: work, friends, and family

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the home needs to adapt for our personal use, what changes may be needed for work from home and visiting friends and family?

In the home – Part II:

The first part of this question is relatively easy: “Remote work from home” now includes some area with a computer setup that has a reasonably clear background for video calls and conferences. Few homes are designed with an extra room or space with this function in mind, so there is another change that will be forthcoming for future design. A home office or home office nook will be a feature that will be standard in post COVID-19 residential design. Even for professions that do not need this setup for their basic livelihood, the feature is sure to become a standard, much like the entry foyer noted in the related post, in the home Part I. Beyond work, this area can be used for a new type of happy hour, remote classrooms and other social interactions. But what about multiple people working or learning from home in the same schedule? To create a home office space for each family member is not feasible, so creative partitions with sound isolation may be the answer.

Built-In Home Office Ideas by Paul Raff Studio

Integrated Home Office Design

Creating an office nook can present a solution to carve out space in an easy arrangement and configuration to shield from view and sound. Similar to an open studio setup, multiple stations may be created in this fashion. Designating an existing room, where possible, allows for more functional use and setup but may be especially challenging for renovations and existing homes that look to adapt. After all, most homes were not designed with a spare room for future use adaption in mind, a concept that will likely change in new design thinking – adaptability!

work nook
Front Entry to the Left, Office Nook to the Right

The challenge with creating a small space or using an existing room within the home however, lies with the psychological burnout, that is showing up in many workers already who are being “on” all the time. The kitchen becomes the breakroom to fill up on coffee, the living room reminds of the chores that are typically left for the end of the workday and the school books on the dining table remind of homework and classes that need attending to. The 8-hour workday stretched to 10 hours, to 12 hours, and blends with the home life. The workday itself is now part of the design challenge.

A better design solution is to revisit the home office space as a separate structure that allows for a mini commute, by taking a few steps into the office and when at lunch or at the end of the day returning to the home. Planning and zoning codes will need to change and adapt, to allow for this to happen. Auxiliary structures are already allowed under most zoning codes, but property size may restrict this function due to requirements for building separation, connectivity, and setbacks.

Let’s return to the design opportunity of the home office as a separate structure: Former site design program choices such as pool cabanas, covered BBQs, granny flats, or storage sheds now present the opportunity to create the at-home office studio instead. The design should be complete with a kitchenette to include the coffee maker, sink and a small refrigerator, etc. as well as a bathroom. This function can be accommodated within a fairly small footprint, 10’x 12’ to start. If more space is available, multiple stations for all members of the family, as well as a meeting area or miniature conference room may complete the layout.

Garden office ideas – garden office pods and garden office sheds ...

The work from home studio would likely be connected to the home with an open covered walkway and allow for independent direct access for clients and visitors from the outside. The home office transforms into a true work from home set up, and at the end of the day, the commute also reduces the carbon footprint!

Prefabricated design solutions provide a great opportunity for quick installation, rather than lengthy construction, as these spaces have urgent need. Design options are growing in this industry, including modern solutions, like the Coodo.

coodo

What about friends and family? The Home office studio ideally should not become the weekend hangout to maintain a dis-association form the work week. Instead, the transition into the home for visitors should start at the foyer, as noted for the personal use in Part I. Just like for our own use, this space will function as a transitional area that allows for an initial disinfecting and reduction of the viral load that comes into the home. Removing shoes should become standard as is already common practice in many cultures around the world. The focus now, however, is on minimizing the introduction of foreign particles. An integrated shoe storage compartment in the foyer will facilitate this process. Hand sanitizing stations and even a small sink may be items that are incorporated into the design. The latter will most certainly be part of the mudroom transitional space on larger homes that feature a garage. This access point, however, is unlikely to be used for friends and family.

Once the initial shedding has been completed more spacious furniture arrangements to allow for groups to maintain a small degree of physical distancing will influence future designs to create overall larger spaces. The need to fill these rooms with a lot of furniture should be balanced with the function and anticipation of people other than the immediate family. If the in-laws visit frequently or the home is the go-to spot for the crew to watch the game, keep it open and spacious.

powder room

Foyer with Powder Room

Already a popular design feature, the powder room will become an important post-COVIT element for families that have frequent visitors. The private bathrooms need to remain just that – private to avoid contamination. The solution is to provide a half-bathroom near the general living areas. Depending on the layout and adjacent functions, this room may expand to include a shower if connecting to the outside or other uses of the home and yard. The powder room should include a small changing area, think mini locker room, that double serves as guest storage and is large enough to comfortably allow for a change of clothes. Ideally, the location is in close proximity to the foyer as well.

Lastly, the space every party always ends up at. The kitchen! Already a focal point in the home for daily use, this is the spot that inevitably any group ends up at some point. To avoid close quarters, the center island, already a popular feature in larger homes will become the single most important post-COVIT-19 design feature. An accessible island without a cooktop or sink provides an excellent workstation during normal use, easily extends to include informal seating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and maintains good physical distance for gatherings – the larger the counter, the better.

SEA_SAKA-4664

Oversized Kitchen Island with Integrated lower seating counter – classic design style

Inspired to adapt your space or design your new homes yet?

www.SebastianEilert.com



Design after COVID 19. How the virus may affect architectural design for the home, Part I

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. After looking at how the office and office culture are likely affected, what do changes to the home may look like?

In the home – Part I:

“Shelter in place” and “remote work from home” are certainly familiar terms these days. But how does this cozy space need to change to continue to be the safe haven we all seek? The answer is linked to our daily use of familiar areas and activities.

Let’s start with the approach. Coming from the outside world; work, shopping, exercise, etc. into the home in South Florida its likely done by car. If you are lucky to have a garage, that will be the point of first contact. Otherwise, the front door will serve as this space. Technology is already widely available to assist with remote unlocking and opening, so the touchless entry is already safe and will likely expand into a standard feature. Materials used for hardware will also change to reflect easy cleaning and disinfecting. More apps are likely to make the transition from the approach into the house easy, sensor-based, and even remote.

The next space is the actual entrance. South Florida rarely features a true foyer as commonly found in northern regions. The main reason for this architecturally speaking is the lack of need to keep the cold out and shed all clothing relating to severe or unpleasant weather. This too will change by design. No longer concerned only with air condition leaking to the outside, the entrance vestibule or foyer will find its way into the updated post COVIT-19 designed home. This can be new or retrofit to create the buffer needed to bring items from the outside into the home and transition out of protective clothing as well as provide a first layer for viral shedding and reduced transmittal of possible contaminants. Doormats, filters, and UV cabinets for certain clothing may look futuristic but are likely to be integrated here with new materials and will take up some of this space.

mudroom

Mudroom transition from the garage into the house.

In more spacious homes this room may also be added as an interface between the garage and the house. Already a popular feature in new home design, the mud-room – a transitional space between garage and kitchen or pantry – no longer will be used for backpacks, school supplies, and large shopping trips only. It will now include a disinfection station and for front line workers, may include a disposable section, similar to a sharps or biohazard removal container setup.

Once inside the home, personal interactions will also be guided by hands-free decisions and upgrades. Appliances, light control, sound systems, faucets, showers, etc., are already integrating these features. More is sure to come, combing voice and motion activation. Think about your favorite Spaceship Enterprise stage setup…

Rain Shower Set System 20" x 14" with Touch Panel Smart Mixer and Remote Controlled LED - VAVALA Vavala FLUXURIE.COM

Free access – modern voice-command controlled shower

Lounging in the living area, working in the designated home station (look for part II B on more for this feature), or getting the well-deserved shut-eye are areas of personal use that should not change a great deal from current design preferences. The 2 most impacted areas are the bathroom and the kitchen. Following a typical daily routine, the first step once rolling out of bed, having told the alarm to stop ringing, would be the use of the toilet. Touch unavoidable by sitting down, but “clean-up” is changing. Besides the paranoia of purchasing toilet paper, there is no real need for this ancient relic in the post COVIT design. Paperless cleansing toilet seats do not just eliminate the need for paper, but will also reduce the need for touch; flushing voice active as well.

Touchless Toilet Seat Covers : Toilet Seat covers

The bathroom sink will also be touchless or voice-activated and will likely include some UV lighting to further incorporate disinfecting. This is more important upon the noted return to the home above, but will become a standard feature in the near future. Next is the shower, again simple already in place solutions for turning on/off, regulating temperature and pressure. Accessibility is likely to be the big winner not just though incorporating commands, but also by the increase in space to avoid tight areas more likely to touch someone or something, think shower curtains, versus a nice roll-in shower.

IMG_0628

Doorless shower access. Enlarged shower for easy access

On to the kitchen: The kitchen counter is already typically a biohazard, no matter how well it is maintained. We use it daily and materials will change to be both user friendly and sanitary. Microbial cutting surfaces and disinfectant under cabinet light are good choices. The fridge, appliances, and cooktops all will be retrofitted with voice commands and contribute to the touchless function of the kitchen space. Eating will hopefully still be manual !

10 Best Under Cabinet LED Lighting - (2020 Reviews & Guide)

With this increase in technology, reliable power and data will become paramount. An increased energy demand can be offset with photovoltaic systems and supported by other renewable energy resources. A designated server space will also find its way int the post COVID designed home, maybe with a pantry or otherwise near the kitchen for easy access.

With so many integrated features to make one s life better, how do we now interact with others inside the home? Look for part II about the family group, friends and family visiting, and the work at home environment.

Sebastian Eilert, AIA

PS: Side note about the daily routine. A great read I found is “A Million Years In A Day” by Greg Jenner, following the history of many of the daily routines and chores done in the home.



Architects as day-to-day activists, not just design stars:

Few architects will reach stardom in their carrier or their life. The ones that do have typically been blessed by a unique commission that allowed them to truly and freely feature their skills resulting in a spectacular structure. Frequently these structures are of a public or high profile private nature, such as museums, signature buildings or government functions.

activist

Activistarchitect.blogspot.com

Most architects work on more day to day projects that do not come with glamour, but still have a severe impact: A home renovation or new home design directly affects the lives of the family that is living in it; a new restaurant provides a place of business, employment and entertainment; a supermarket becomes the key to growth of a neighborhood;

The impact of the architect on daily life cannot be overstated. Designs create, in a reasonable timeframe, a place or building that has the capacity to influence history – large or small. Good design choice can and should make statements to encourage underlying principles of good living and good communities. Incorporating a certain feature over another has the potential to shape the future path of an individual, being it a resident, business owner, worker, tenant… or just someone passing by. Look at architecture and design as opportunities for good, not just to the specific client, but the neighborhood, the community and even the planet. Everyone, every project matters!

activist 2



Some US and German Green Building incentive considerations…

Over the past 40 years, Germany has maintained a leading position in environmental incentives and benefit programs. The incentives have ranged from PV systems (photo-voltaic), to insulation and windows. What have they done? Is there anything the United States environmental policy makers could learn from Germany’s forward thinking?

The policies encompass many different categories, but the three main areas are energy, urban infrastructure, and transportation. The country’s policymakers started out small, thinking of little changes that could be made to spur forward action. About a year ago, president Obama stated that he wished for eighty percent of electricity to come from clean sources. This goal, of course, was not reached. Germany knew that setting a goal and failing would deter people from believing in the system. Llittle steps can keep the public interested.

The green plan adopted in 2010 is the Energy Concept. This states that primary energy consumption will fall by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2050. With the help of nuclear power and the spike in gas prices (over $7US/Gallon), energy consumption and greenhouse gas pollution has decreased significantly in Germany. The incentive with the gas, however, is more or less a little push to get people to use bicycles, public transportation, or carpool. All of these alternatives are valid in the United States as well; however, we do not see spiking gas prices as good for the environment, but instead, bad for the economy.

“Not living at the expense of people in other regions of the earth or at the expense of future generations living here and today.” Germany defined sustainability in a way to look not at the individual, but at the future and the surroundings. The changes made today will not directly affect the people who make them, but instead, their children, and their grandchildren. Forward thinking is another concept Germany has followed. The incentives for sustainable design and renewable energy originally focused only on  solar power. PV panels to generate energy has been viewed as a tax deduction in Germany for many years. With this known, it is not surprising that Germany made up 50% of the solar power worldwide market, with larger countries such as the US and China falling short. Germany has become a powerhouse for energy efficiency.

These incentives, however, have seen many cutbacks in the past 3 years, while the United States has seen large increases. These cuts in subsidies are due in part to the soaring number of purchases, yet even as the cuts increase, so do the number of solar panels. But Germany is still viewed as a green leader. So what does this say about the incentives and their effectiveness? Germany witnessed years of decreased emissions and energy use, giving other countries the push needed to follow step. Since then , the US  government has begun offering tax credits to homeowners and business owners for solar panel additions, as well as paying for those consumers who give back to the grid (producing more energy than they consume).

http://www.climateactionprogramme.org/news/germany_to_cut_solar_power_incentives/

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-10-10/how-germany-became-europe%E2%80%99s-green-leader-look-four-decades-sustainable-policymaki http://www.traveldailynews.com/pages/show_page/43246-Germany-leads-the-way-in-sustainability-and-green-meetings

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-02/02/content_14521630.htm http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,811530,00.html

(SE, EB, edited JLD)