In response to the current situation, and as are most in our industry, we are considering what the pandemic means for the design of places. Not only for the immediate emergency responses so critically needed, but also thinking for the long term;
what learnings can we take forwards from this time of struggle to help bring about positive change through the built environment?
will a greater appreciation of our fundamental human needs help push forwards a comprehensive rethink on how our places are made?
The crisis is highlighting gaps in building blocks of cities, showing us how many are left without in distinctly spatial terms - lack of private space, lack of outdoor space, lack of access to green space, and many more metrics.
It has also made so tangible some of the fundamentals we might have taken for granted; human interaction, sense of belonging, social cohesion and solidarity.
CHANGING PATTERNS OF LIFE
Even before the current health crisis, the way we live, work and enjoy ourselves had already been rapidly changing - with technological advances constantly creating new possibilities, but at the same time society still struggles with complex, chronic issues such as the housing shortage and loneliness.
Now the health crisis has:
Further revealed deep fault lines around social inequality with many different ways this can now be read.
Shown us how essential the quality of our homes is, and that we need the basics in place – access to natural light, the outdoors and fresh air, privacy and space that works for current and changing ways of living.
Created a stark shift in rethinking what “home” means when it has suddenly needed to encompass our work, learning, playing and living environments.
But it has also highlighted our interconnectedness, not only individual-individual, but individual-community, society and planet. We are able to better see our position as part of an ecosystem and perhaps this could lead to a push for greater harmony between all the “systems” we inhabit.
Now more than ever, we need new approaches and solutions to respond to evolving patterns of life in the 21st century; to develop new ways that are fit for the challenges, and possibilities, of today.
DESIGN FOR WELLBEING
With our fundamental human needs brought so clearly and sharply to the fore, we hope there will be more widespread interest in the relationship between our surroundings and quality of life, spurring on the emerging movements towards development that actively and specifically support human wellbeing.
We are reflecting on what we can learn as an industry and how we could collectively bring about positive change after the emergency has passed. By taking this time to connect and share with organisations who are tackling and addressing similar challenges, we will be exploring further how design can be a force for good.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
At this stage there are many questions already being asked and topics being discussed: Working with a range of organisations, we’ll be sharing initiatives and ideas particularly around the following themes:
LONELINESS, COMMUNITY, BELONGING – In the face of difficulty, we’ve seen adaptation, solidarity and resilience, with people uniting to support one another in new formats. What can we draw from these acts, small and large, to facilitate this type of connectedness in future life?
SOCIAL CAPITAL: How can we build trust and networks as a core ingredient of built environment design?
DENSITY, HOUSING & COLIVING: Will we need to rethink the architecture of density and proximity? Can we address some of the social inequalities we’ve seen so sharply foregrounded through the design of places?
LIVING INSIDE: Do we need new formats of home? Can we build in a more indepth approach to wellbeing as part of housing standards, such as connection to nature/ biophilia?
HOUSING FOR MENTAL HEALTH: – How can we create solutions for the many and not only the few?
SYSTEMS THINKING & INTERCONNECTEDNESS: What are holistic ways of approaching our new challenges?
Please follow our blog for thought-pieces and articles on the built environment as a catalyst for health and wellbeing. We believe a collective approach will lead to the most impact and change, so please get in touch to connect with us, so we can do more together - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com