Homes After Coronavirus: How Will The Pandemic Affect The Way We Live


What we are going through socially at the moment is unprecedented, at least by recent memories. Minds go crazy due to boredom, while reflecting and appreciating what was it like before. For me, I can help but to start imagining how drastic (or not) things will change or improve the way we live in order to survive another pandemic. Not just the active measures like advancement in the medical front, but the passive planning on how future homes should be designed.


I can't help but to be inspired by this article of a similar title and to try and visualise the author's point and contextualise it for the Malaysia homes situation.


Since it will be a waste to be confined at home and not use up our creative juices, here are 5 predictions of how the future of houses in Malaysia that might take place.


Houses Not Apartments


High-rise buildings were designed to organise as many people as possible in one place. Health and hygiene were not a consideration. In times of pandemic, it is necessary to reduce contact with everything that is used in multi-storey buildings: elevator, elevator buttons, door handles, surfaces and, above all, neighbours.


This MCO has proved to us that working remotely, although requiring more discipline, works and may even force us to be more efficient (no acting busy in front of bosses). Perhaps home owners may move further away from city centres since we may not need to be in the office 9am- 5pm everyday. It's a good reason to stay in the suburbs apart from cheaper home prices.



Enclosure Over Exposure


We may opt for more visual and physical privacy, perhaps gone will be the days of homogenous row of houses. Using terrace houses as example, since it is the entry-level landed house (read more from our previous post here), perhaps there will gaps/ intervals between openings/ entry to houses to minimise contact.


Standard arrangement of terrace houses
Carporch entry being place alternately
Carporch covering doubles up as floating garden
Service lane to further separate houses

Of course some sort of uniformity will still need to be adhered for cost purposes, especially in the structure of these houses. But as we become a more individualistic society, open-plan houses may be deemed historic.

Service core to introduce light and air (common issue for terrace houses)

Staircases will be move alongside the sharing wall and become a well for natural lighting and ventilation, like this house here. This "service" core helps to break up the monotony of terrace houses, providing a separation from your neighbours.



Self-sufficient Usage of Resources


The houses of the future will be proud and independent, with their own water supply and cooling. Autonomous mini-stations generating alternative power will become a reality. The goal will be independence from the outside world, minimising risks in the case of a full shutdown.


A floating garden above the car porch becomes a pool of water irrigation and filtration machine while also providing cooling and necessary coverage to the vehicles below. Any maintenance of these infrastructure will also be more convenient to service, as opposed to needing to go underground.



Flexibility over Rigidity


Taking inspiration from his home by Fabian Tan Architects, internal spaces would be come more flexible to cater for any future or immediate changes. Whether this would reduce the need for renovations, only time will tell.


Also learning from this project by Aamer Architects (my previous employer in Singapore), communal space would move up in the priority list, and thus moving up to the upper level of a house where the best views with natural lighting and ventilation occurs.


Bedrooms would then be move to the lower level where it will be cooler (protection from the Sun) while flexibility of walls can turn the bedrooms into communal spaces at any given time.



Home As A New Hub

Homes will become a hub where working/ study spaces will be integral to the internal planning, and not just taking over leftover spaces in the house or dining table.

Semi-private (with flexible partition) in the middle of living area, overlooking floating garden

It is a smaller scale thinking of a shophouse, where living and working spaces are separate but interlinked.


I really think this is a sign of the Earth taking a lunch break, making us rethink the basic questions of our livelihood before we resume being consumed with work.


Nick.


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