The architecture industry is currently facing a crossroads. At a time when rapid response and efficiency are in a constant game of tug-of-war, would this be the perfect time to reconsider everything? Or should we stick to quick, specific and pragmatic answers where we are most comfortable?
Just as modernism was at least partially inspired to promote healthy living conditions in the first half of the 20th century, it is certain that the challenges posed by the current pandemic will create new philosophies, technologies and practical solutions to everyday life.
An architect’s understanding of the built environment is one thing, but it’s just as important to be in touch with the public’s understanding of how the built environment should work. The pandemic may not last forever, but the way we respond to its impact will shape the built environment of the future.
To fully understand the role of architecture in exposing the dam, it is important to have a deeper understanding of the ways we live and move through buildings as well as other physical spaces. The current construction environment may not be specifically designed to limit the effects of the pandemic, but as designers and the public learn more about COVID-19, a new way of thinking about fear of infection emerges, which eventually translates into forms that also accompany fear of infection.
Now that designers and property owners are tasked with carefully weighing the pros and cons of crossing the threshold between indoors and outdoors, between the bottom and top floors and generally between public and private spaces, where do we draw the line?
This does not always have to be the case, thanks to the rise in multifunctional and flexible spaces.
Flexibility, the oysters by living in arrears
If there is one word whose use has drastically increased throughout the pandemic, it would be “flexibility”.
As people continue to adapt to the evolving pandemic and quarantine protocols of each locality, the postponed homes of the future should include spatial and functional flexibility to accommodate such changes. Given the requirements of adaptability and multifunctionality, there is simply one type of building that comes to mind – high-rise buildings.
Flexible space for work, study
Especially at a time when employees and students are encouraged to work and study at home, shared areas and spatial facilities offered by high-rise buildings could be used as collaborative spaces.
Enlightened designers will revolutionize high-rise buildings to be suitable spaces to work and study from home, and therefore a more separate spatial organization will be encouraged. This could either come in the form of a separate hooks or a room, both equipped with large windows, blackout curtains, ergonomic furniture and soundproofing.
High-rise buildings strategically located within central business districts make them an excellent receiver of network and telecommunications signals, which are important in teleworking and study events.
Flexible forms of entertainment
Cabin fever is one thing. Staying at home gave us limited forms of entertainment and leisure places to visit in nearby areas. While just going outside can solve cabin fever, our current scenario encourages us instead to think outside the box.
When it comes to guilt and risk-free recreation, high-rise buildings can offer everything from shopping malls, gyms, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and swimming pools – which no longer require people to travel distances for relaxation. Depending on the exclusivity of the building, the location of recreational spaces in high-rise buildings varies from the ground floor to specially designed rooftops.
Flexible means of self-sufficiency
Extended time indoors, where most residents are expected to remain productive, can pose various challenges to the planning and design of deferred housing. More specifically, there will be great emphasis on the construction of self-sufficient buildings and lifestyles.
Given their limited space, residential high-rise buildings have increased functionality with their space-saving features and temporary spaces. The healing effects of light, nature and air are also emphasized in high-rise buildings with residential units surrounded by their own garden spaces, all the while having larger communal gardens where people can relax and gather.
Utilities are also encouraged to be as self-sufficient as possible with energy-efficient strategies for cooling and heating systems, water supply and even food production. While we cannot ignore the relatively high densities of high-rise buildings, non-contact technologies can limit physical contact by eliminating the need to push or touch surfaces.
Flexible access to travel
It is expected that increased protocols for social distancing will encourage a horizontal form of development for heavily populated cities. Given the limited land resources suitable for development, another option would be the integration of mixed-use development in high-rise buildings.
The accessibility and convenience of high-rise buildings is comparable to cities with an efficient network of cycling and pedestrian streets. With everything within reach within walking distance, both scenarios promote environmental friendliness that encourages people’s physical and mental health.
Although modular construction is already popular even before COVID-19, its affordable price and fast construction have made it even more relevant as buildings adapt to increased floor areas and space requirements to meet social distance, treatment and quarantine protocols.
While modular construction is traditionally used for residential buildings ranging from four to eight storeys, the effectiveness of this new form of construction proves to be suitable for buildings up to 12 storeys or more. Since the majority of high-rise buildings are made of multiple repeat units, the wide use of prefabricated and easy-to-install materials that can be easily disassembled and recycled makes them compatible with modular construction.
Recognizes the flexibility of high-rise buildings
Instead of optimism, a futuristic mindset is the pinnacle of architectural thinking. At a time when rapid reaction and efficiency are in a constant tug of war, would this be the perfect time to reconsider everything? Or should we stick to quick, specific and pragmatic answers where we are most comfortable? Thanks to the flexibility of the high-rise building, we can get the best of both worlds with a few steps away.
The author manages his own architectural studio that helps local and international clients with various unique and future design specialties for hotels, condominiums, museums, commercial and mixed-use buildings with a pursuit of the metamodern of the next Filipino architecture. Visit FulgarArchitects.com.
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