The safety and hygiene measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant a fundamental restructuring of their everyday life for many people.
Especially in times of lockdown, the effects of the translocation of the workplace as well as the educational institution and private life were clearly noticeable, as your own four walls became the center of action overnight – factors that influence the design of the architecture of future properties.
Ogundehin on the paradigm shift in our housing needs
In her guest article entitled “In the future home, form will follow infection”, British architect and writer Michelle Ogundehin describes how the corona crisis is changing our view of real estate. Published in the London-based online design magazine Dezeen, her article includes pertinent suggestions for adaptation to housing needs in times of special security precautions.
Ogundehin notes that it is essential to adapt our architecture to possible interpandemic phases – not only to ensure protection against infections, but also to counteract psychological stress and depression. She also emphasizes that the feasibility of her proposals is not related to the individual assets of tenants or buyers, but should be applied to future building projects in general.
Floor plan neutrality as a planning obligation
According to Ogundehin, ideas regarding the standard floor plan of residential properties should be liberalized. Reference is made to the structure of the classic single-family house, the bedrooms of which are often on the first floor and therefore usually receive more sunlight than the living room. Ogundehin recommends relocating it to the ground floor in order to be able to make optimal use of the lighting conditions. It also considers floor plan neutrality to be mandatory, as flexibility and the ability to adapt to new situations – especially in times of pandemics – are gaining in importance. Ogundehin takes a critical view of open floor plans, which do not subject the living room, kitchen and entrance area to any spatial separation, as this concept does not offer opportunities for communication but no retreat. The lack of privacy often puts a strain on both well-being and the work situation in the home office.
Health-conscious building and furnishing
Ogundehin sees the Japanese Genkan concept as particularly beneficial in dealing with viruses and bacteria. This provides a small anteroom or a kind of veranda, which has to be passed through initially to wash your hands and take off your shoes before entering the actual living room.
In order not to put unnecessary strain on our immune system, Ogundehin continues to suggest using VOC- and formaldehyde-free raw materials when it comes to building new houses and apartments. This would significantly reduce the release of toxic substances into the air in our interiors and relieve our airways.
When it comes to furnishings and decoration, according to Ogundehin, the principle “Smart not Sterile” should be observed. Surrounding yourself with beautiful things contributes to general well-being, which is why decorating living spaces should continue to be practiced. Colors and materials that are particularly close to nature are said to have a positive influence on the psyche. Furniture that is exposed to frequent contact should, however, be cleaned regularly to keep the risk of infection low. For future building projects, Ogundehin also suggests reducing touches to a minimum by using no-touch technologies.
With regard to digital learning and working, according to Ogundehin, back-friendly options should be created that relieve the body. The use of ergonomic desks, which can be converted into standing tables if necessary, should be considered in the future when it comes to new furnishing concepts.
Urban living less in focus due to Corona
If you look at the results of a study on tenant and buyer preferences, which was carried out in June this year by the experts at the service, consulting and investment management company in the real estate sector Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), you can see that the demand for larger Apartments with more rooms that are clearly separated from each other has increased due to COVID-19. This is due to the translocation of work, school and private life and the resulting increased need for privacy. Furthermore, rental or purchase decisions tend to correlate more frequently with the existence of private outdoor areas, such as balconies or gardens, the importance of which for general well-being became the focus of the population during the lockdown.
JLL also notes that there has been an increase in demand, which is also due to the lack of commuting times and thus to the relocation of the work area to the home office. The aim is to focus more on real estate that is outside of the “usual” metropolitan areas. Dr. Konstantin Kortmann, Head of Residential Investment JLL Germany, comments on this as follows: “The changes in the work area in the apartment and in the outdoor areas in particular are associated with an increased demand for living space, which, in view of the excess demand in the metropolitan areas in Germany, only appears to be possible through expansion effects. The combination of demand for higher quality and higher living space, combined with a declining need for central housing, could therefore lead to the demand for housing increasingly shifting to the periphery of the metropolitan areas of regional housing markets. However, one has to qualify: in the end, it is only around 10 percent of those surveyed who want to move from the urban area to the surrounding area. This tendency has already been evident in families with children in recent years; the top 7 of this population group recorded migration losses to the surrounding area even before Corona. It remains to be seen whether Corona will actually act as an amplifier and lead to significantly higher numbers ”.
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