New Solutions for a New Normality

Towards a post-coronavirus order

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Much has been said recently about the new normality, although every day that passes it becomes clearer that the term refers to new routines, norms or habits that we are going to have to incorporate into our lives as we transition to the de-escalation of the confinements caused by the coronavirus. Some will become permanent while others will only be temporary.

But what is certain—according to the information we are receiving from specialists—is that COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time, and consequently those everyday situations that present possibilities of contagion will need to be changed and adapted to new patterns of behavior, both in the private and the public sphere.

Until now, and by this I mean before the pandemic, we have enjoyed a very high level of freedom that has allowed us to do what we want, when we want. As it happens, “what” we want has involved large crowds on many occasions.

We can recall the thousands of people on beaches, all crowded together, where reaching the water meant stepping over each other; or the long waits as we queued to enter a restaurant; or the overbooked flights on which airlines had sold more tickets than they had seats. All of this and a long list of other aspects of everyday life will be modified by the new “normality” because there are two constants that will dominate almost all of our movements in the coming months: social distancing and hygiene.

Social distancing will be the new normal in all public spaces.
Social distancing will be the new normal in all public spaces. Photo: Chloe Evans/Unsplash

With social distancing, crowds of people must be avoided and for this reason the number of available places will be measured and controlled. As a result, this directive must be associated with increased prior planning by everyone.

We must book in advance to go to restaurants, as well as anticipate the days we want to go to the beach. With air travel we must allow more time at airports to compensate for the entry and exit controls. In supermarkets there will be a restriction on the maximum number of people allowed inside, and public transport, which is designed for overcrowding and a certain disorder, must somehow be prepared and organized to achieve reduced density and greater hygiene.

And the same principles apply to theatres, museums, parks: everything, everywhere.

 

New spaces for a new reality

Consequently, from now on there must be a redefinition of spaces in terms of their design and architecture, so that they can facilitate a new dynamic governed by circuits and separations between individuals; newly designed spaces that guide and order people.

New housing design will be based on access to the outside with good ventilation and areas for teleworking, cooking and playing, and with bathrooms focused on health and personal disinfection. In summary, new solutions that are more functional and adapted to these priorities.

Therefore, it is the task of architects to make proposals that will take into account all these future concepts in homes, as well as in public, commercial and work spaces.

Provisional measures will give way to design proposals that reorder many aspects of our lives.
Provisional measures will give way to design proposals that reorder many aspects of our lives. Photo Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

Designers will also need to conceive of products that facilitate better hygiene and collective health management. Important considerations will be: avoiding contact with those elements that people usually touch, more handwashing points, and systems that allow for disinfection after individuals pass through, as well as products and spaces that are easier to clean. There will certainly be many challenges in terms of the analysis and solution of these issues.

Clearly, we will defeat this virus—perhaps in 12, 24 or 36 months—but what COVID-19 has shown is how vulnerable we are as a society, and the importance of global preparation for defending the lives of a society that is subjected to the uncontrollable: the very force of nature, this time expressed in the form of a lethal virus, and other times in the form of climate change.

Main image: New routines and habits are being developed in the post-coronavirus scenario. Photo Kate Trifo/Unsplash

 

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