Following our collective iso lockdown, it’s safe to say that many of us have discovered precisely what works and what doesn’t about our domestic environments.
For the design-conscious, a home’s deficits can seem even more acute, as Ben Pomroy—the Rothelowman principal architect behind Denvell Group’s $260m Babylon development in Rouse Hill—is all too aware.
“As an architect stuck inside for several weeks, it’s hard not to become acutely conscious of the positives and shortfalls of your own home,” he says. “We’re trained to think intensely about how to achieve the right outcome for our client’s brief and understand the sense of place intimately, whether it’s through orientation, light, vistas or other elements of space.”
“However, I think iso has now heightened everyone’s understanding of place,” he adds. “And that means developers and architects will need to embrace this enhanced public insight and be better at demonstrating how their projects will answer changing social, cultural and physical needs, post COVID-19.”
So, what project elements does Pomroy predict people will connect with, post-pandemic?
“I think we’ll see a resurgence of interest in external spaces,” he envisages. “Urban apartment living has huge social benefits, including greater access to amenities, services, and cafés, but properties that can’t deliver adequate private external space will probably prove less enticing to buyers.”
Ben believes designing for these external spaces will be critically important. How do balconies function as extensions of interior space while connecting residents safely to the outside world? How do we incorporate a connection to nature into apartment living?
“While we’ve all been social distancing, we’ve become aware our wellbeing is intimately linked to connection – to nature, particularly, but also to each other,” he explains. “Communal spaces aren’t just for meeting other residents in your apartment building; they’ll provide another recreational space beyond your private dwelling that’s still within the safety and security of your smaller community.”
“A development’s private landscaped courtyard can satisfy our newly-realised demand for visual or physical connection to nature,” he adds.
Lastly, Pomroy forecasts the mass-switch to working from home during COVID-19 will lead to more focus on spaces to work in apartments.
“Design trends had been moving away from specialised study spaces in apartments, but the pandemic has changed all that,” he explains. “There’ll be new opportunities to design compact but physically separated study/workspaces into apartments and townhouses so you can work and Zoom in private away from the rest of the family.”
“The physical separation over two levels allows family members to have their own space with sleeping spaces on one level and living in another,” Pomroy says. “You can get the kind of physical separation available in a large family home within a more compact and efficient urban living space—which we’ve just discovered can be the difference between family discord or harmony.”