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Change in the design of the houses after Covid-19.

After several months confined at home, architecture is trying to bring new lines of work in design to improve its habitability.

There are two types of home users during this state of emergency: those who have a patio or a large terrace and those who must push half their body out of their windows to notice fresh air on their faces and, if they are lucky, some sun.

 

Being confined in our homes 24 hours a day has made us live with them and know them intimately, not only to eat, sleep and watch TV for a while before sleeping. Overnight they have also become a workplace, leisure area and playground. Perhaps the time has come to reflect on how homes should be designed from now on to cater for future confinements and to improve our lives.

Just as the coronavirus has acted as a catalyst to implement teleworking in many companies without the slightest decrease in productivity, why is it not going to show the need to adapt homes as a more comfortable environment where to live as well as possible within of our possibilities?

 

Orientation, light and flexibility.

I think that from now on, all those people who are thinking of buying a home, build one or even rehabilitate one because they feel like it, will incorporate criteria in their decision beyond the number of square meters, height, rooms etc.

Evaluating decisions will change in general. We are going to highlight the design, the guidelines and the quality. Probably we will give more value to the size of some rooms, intermediate spaces such as terraces or galleries, the storage space, the balcony that allow the sun to enter and a ventilation or cross ventilation.

A period of reflection has begun to observe all the deficiencies that exist in the place where we live.

We (the architects) have always defended architecture not as a building or investment element, but as a space in which we live and perhaps now they understand us a little more when we try to put value on the quality of the space, the need for proportion, good light, good orientation and cross ventilation.

After four weeks in our respective houses, society has realized that we live in psychologically depressed, inflexible spaces, with a lack of square meters, with communication deficiencies with the exterior that lead to disorientation of space-time. Therefore, space is essential for living in a dignified manner.

Space is not just square meters of construction. I think that without a doubt we are going to rethink the interior space and make spaces much more flexible. The same cannot be converted into more square meters, but it can be used to optimize space and proportion and functionality.

In other words, special emphasis should be placed on the concept of flexibility. In fact, after so long designing houses / offices we will have a very assimilated fact that the spaces are not so labelled, but that there are very flexible spaces in the houses where you can work, play and live together. The collectivization of workspaces will also be very well accepted.

So now we realize that it is important to highlight architecture, the space and the built environment and a little to reject the economic logic to put more on the quality of the space.

 

The terrace, the luxury that returns.

A market trend that is already being applied and makes a lot of sense on small apartments is that instead of designing an 8 m² kitchen incorporate it into the living room with an island. In this way, more space is gained in the living room and it does not seem that the kitchen is a store with a fridge and microwave.

Another line of work that is now being sold as a real luxury. It is about creating an exterior space that could have a dimension similar to an interior room (12-15 m²), which gives an extra relief to the house and depending on the needs it could become another additional interior room just by closing it, which gives a lot of versatility to the house.

It is just a large terrace with the possibility that if necessary it becomes one more room. In fact, it recognizes that paradoxically building a 15 m² terrace is cheaper than a room of similar dimensions within the home.

Regarding the terraces, they have been prostitutes, they have closed them and now they are very much missed. They should become essential elements that communicate the interior space with the exterior.

 

New theories

Beyond recovering the importance of concepts such as light, orientation or making the terraces larger, there is a lot of academic theorizing about how housing designs should evolve to make them more flexible and versatile.

Let's start from a standard house in a large city with two rooms and 60 m² of construction. A line of work involves selling larger areas without increasing the price. How? Not as a finished product but as a product that the buyer acquires and then puts layers of finishes on his own according to his economic possibilities.

This means that you could sell a completely finished house of 60 m² and for the same price a 75 m² with a brand new bathroom and kitchen, which is the only essential thing, but then it was the buyer himself who according to his economic possibilities carry out the finishes.

On the other hand, the Spanish regulations oblige or direct to design very defined spaces, with which the area are totally adjusted to its use. This usually leads to 8-10 m² bedrooms, 18-20 m² living rooms, and so on. This allows very little flexibility.

In this sense, in the future the minimums that the regulations indicate should not be the standard, but we are going to demand or try to have housing above them.

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