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 and the profession of architecture.

There is no doubt that the “after” will bring with it some changes and lasting adjustments. How would the practice of architecture be impacted by the pandemic? Let’s look at both the business and office culture of the architectural profession as well as some of the most common project types.

A Weekly Surveillance Summary of U.S. COVID-19 Activity

PART I – the architectural office:

Architects were generally known as one of the early adaptors of the “studio environment” which is the layout of a large open space without walls, cubicles and many shared and connected work stations. This concept was encouraged, so various design groups may openly communicate on any working projects and share the drafting plans they were working on more easily and without having to carry them between desks. The move to computer-based drafting, CAD, had little impact on the layout, only adding monitors to most working areas, but maintain a large surface to open and work on printed plans. The collaboration attitude was embraced by many other office types from creatives of all walks to government planners and realtors- in short, any profession that does not require absolute privacy or limited workspace. Individual officed, enclosed conference rooms and open break areas are also typically part of these office configurations completing the challenge to redesign these areas post COVID-19.

To start creating a safe work area, the spacing of everything will have to be adjusted to allow for proper social, or better physical, distancing. As such physical barriers are likely to be introduced. In an attempt to keep the open studio feel, these are likely to be transparent, presenting an opportunity for some newly adapted materials. The pattern of walking will be adjusted to minimize the opportunity to pass another person. Directional corridors and one way in – one way out are sure to become the norm as one is less likely to pick up viral load from a co-worker in line than passing and physical distancing is more easily accomplished.

Interior Architecture Office Best Design Cool Interiors Architect ...

Controls are sure to be impacted as well. Light and control switched will be eliminated to react to motion and voice activation, likely a technological connection of personal devices to start and control computers, task lighting, and other work station related equipment. Hands-free will be the norm. Already many systems have these features and most areas easily retrofitted.

Connectivity through cameras will only increase to avoid the concentration of conference room style meetings. This presents the challenge of acoustic control at individual work areas already an issue anyone can attest to wanting to have a private conversation in the open studio layout. Solution? Individual sound booth – a revival of the phone booth – less the phone, just a camera, touchless of course!

Sanitation will be key. To start, the HVAC system will need to be updated to work harder on filtering. Much like many casinos, we will see upgrades and retrofitting to include improved filtration. Add to this ultraviolet or a new kind of disinfecting system both stationary at most points of entry/exit as well as at the individual workstations. Hand sanitizer stations will be standard and available plenty, but there are likely portable disinfecting stations that allow for a more thorough touchless cleansing, reducing viral load thought the workday.

What cannot be avoided to be touched, will get finishes that naturally disinfect, such as silver and copper: door handles and knobs, elevator buttons – where voiceless commands or waved card readers are not practical or possible to retrofit.  Public bathrooms will present another challenge with the added importance of privacy. ADA has already provided standards to improve access and movement and with post COVID – 19, additional physical distancing guidelines are likely the solution to this challenge. Touchless faucets and motion-activated fixtures, spaced 6 feet apart, and fully individualized compartments that self sanitize after each use. Here, too the use of personal devices is likely to assist with the availability of the facilities, rather than waiting in line. Virtual queueing alarming the next user that the stall is empty and has been sanitized.

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The common them to most of these solutions is more space to allow for more distance. Design for the architectural office, as for most others, will require a larger footprint per employee – for workstation, circulation and support spaces.

The temporary workspace, rented as needed, institutions like We Work and Büro are likely to disappear in the aftermath of this pandemic. The challenge of sanitation and encouraged close proximity of workstations will present a true challenge to maintain a safe and physically distant work environment.

 

The alternative? Work from home: Look for PART II – in the home.