Innovative solutions to meet our evolving professional and public environments.
As we are now into our second lockdown of the Covid pandemic, it has become evident that our design world is entering a new era. Covid-19 has demonstrated to us the vulnerabilities in the way we live. It is a small world we live in, one in which we are all closely connected, but now we need to readjust to create more distance where possible.
As we prepare to return to the workplace (hopefully not too far in the future), there is an onus on the designer to create a level of trust and sense of safety and comfort in our buildings - both new and existing. Future design decisions will need to reflect the ‘new normal’ and ensure compliance with new regulations for a safe and healthy work environment. As a result, the design industry is now having to re-evaluate their processes and react to the new parameters being set by the pandemic . This should include the following:
1. Spatial Strategies
The concept of the modern office layouts have been changed. Operational demands have altered as the pandemic has forced us to work remotely and in certain sectors this virtual working is proving productive and so will challenge the existing design format being applied to shared open plan workspaces. There will be a degree of decentralisation of certain sectors in the workforce, particularly for the tech-based industry. Home working environments and hub offices will become part of the new norm.
Consideration will have to be given to physical distancing, neutral spaces, amenity areas and waiting areas or waiting “nooks”. Design will offer versatility, offering flexibility in layout, accommodating reconfigurations to support the needs of physical distancing and any future restrictions that may be implied.
2. Healthier Buildings
Surfaces: When designing, thought must be given to the specification of finishes that are selected - now more than ever. Due consideration must be given to anti-bacterial finishes such as tiles, fabrics and metals that will assist in the eradication of bacteria in the workplace environment. This will play a part in the finishes selected to general public areas and flat surfaces with a view to controlling the microbe and bacteria.
Materials selected will have to withstand intense cleaning regimes. The use of antibacterial finishes will result in the requirement of endless applications of disinfectant, bleaches and heavily manufactured product. Public spaces will be designed to inspire whilst accommodating ease of cleaning and maintenance.
Sensor Technology: The new buzz word is “touch free” as we now endeavour to minimise the amount of surfaces that we come in contact with in our daily routine - from entrances, lobbies and receptions with their required sanitisation stations to our public toilets. Public washroom facilities going forward are being developed as a touch free experience with sensors on taps, WCs, urinals, soap dispensers and towel dispensers. Additional space will be required for these areas to accommodate social distancing at the wash facilities and the benefits of POD unit designs could feature self-contained units that can be self-cleaned or isolated if required.
Ventilation: More emphasis will be placed on additional specifications in terms of the adequate ventilation of buildings. HVAC designers and engineers will be sourcing systems that allow the removal of potentially contaminated air. They will look at areas such as filtration, ultraviolet germicidal eradication in return air ducts, air purification systems and additional carbon dioxide sensors in areas designed for group gatherings, large office areas and even classrooms.
As with all challenges, opportunities present themselves and as designers have done in the past they will once again be challenged to inspire and bring forward new ideas to adapt to our new environments. Such design solutions will not only meet these new demands but will also provide us all with new and exciting environments which will influence the design and architecture of the future.
At Versatile Group, we provide a dedicated technical specification service backed up by a significant investment in people, design and technology. Our highly skilled commercial specification team is here to support you with solutions that meet and exceed your project requirements. Reach out at 046 9029444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss with one of our specification team.