ABOUT THE AUTHOR | AD&V® is dedicated to advanced and energy-efficient sustainable architecture & interior design that enhances people’s experience of the world and improves their lives.
COVID times have forever shifted our world.
This month marks the one-year anniversary since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Puerto Rico. It’s been a year of challenges, of loss and reinvention for everyone around the world. As the anniversary comes to a close, we’re reflecting on how the pandemic has changed our firm, the Architecture and Interior Design industry overall, and the future of design.
On March 12, 2020 the government of Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Those were times filled with great uncertainty and worry since very little was known about the virus as it continued to spread across the globe. For us, our number one priority was to keep the AD&V Team healthy and safe. We sent everyone home and began the complicated task of getting our entire server up on the Cloud. Fortunately, we were able to provide our Team with the necessary technology and software in order for them to continue working remotely.
This, of course, was just part of the challenge of figuring out how to keep our firm moving forward during these trying times. Many of our projects were paused as things were evaluated. Even though we didn’t know what was going to happen, we had no choice but to push forward like we had done during other difficult times such as the Earthquakes in 2019-2020, Hurricane Maria in 2017 and in 2008 when the economic recession hit. We were lucky that we had work to do as well as financial aids to keep us doing what we loved.
The coronavirus also affected the architecture and design industry at a local and global scale as companies fought to survive. According to The Washington Post Magazine, “The shutdown hit the industry hard, with the Architectural Billings Index, which is used to project nonresidential building prospects, experiencing its largest single-month decline since the American Institute of Architects developed the economic indicator 25 years ago. By April, more than 8 in 10 architectural firms surveyed by the AIA had applied for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans.”
The architecture and interior design industry, like most other industries, was faced with a fight or flight situation. The industry chose to fight and reinvent itself in order to bring solutions to help fight the spread of the virus.
CHANGE IN DESIGN
Architecture and interior design shifted its focus towards designing for people’s health and wellbeing. These concepts were not new to us as a firm. For years we’ve been advocating for holistic, sustainable design solutions. COVID 19 got the entire industry quickly on board. This focus towards healthy design will forever change how architects and designers work with spaces and their functionality. Take a look at some of the design strategies that architects and interior designers are implementing:
1. OUTDOOR AREAS
After spending much of the year indoors, outdoor spaces in homes, schools, restaurants, and businesses have become increasingly important in order for people to be able to enjoy with a much lower risk of COVID infection compared to indoor spaces. It’s also been proven that getting fresh air and sunshine helps improve people’s mood and mental health.
2. OPEN LAYOUTS
Similarly, large indoor spaces are being designed in commercial and institutional areas in order for people to be able to safely practice social distancing. For our new office headquarters for example, we chose a space that was larger and designed flexible spaces to provide spaces to collaborate, work comfortably and be able to maintain social distance to keep our AD&V Team safe.
Interior designers working with smaller and more limited spaces are adding protective separators for extra protection. Clear partitions and dividers are now commonly seen in offices, classrooms, stores and other public areas in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
4. INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY
Considering that technology has played a key factor in connecting people and businesses during the pandemic, spaces are being designed to integrate all types of technology. Charging stations, hotspot areas, cameras, portable technology areas are being implemented in homes and commercial areas alike so that it seamlessly adapts to users’ needs.
5. HEALTH CHECKPOINTS
Architects and interior designers are designing to comply with CDC health guidelines in order to keep the community healthy and safe. You should expect to see more spaces designed for permanent sanitation areas, branded safety kits, no-touch infrared thermometers, and stations for people to recycle masks and gloves.
6. SUSTAINABILITY EMPHASIS
COVID-19 has shown us the direct impact our collective actions have on the environment. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that architects and interior designers are taking sustainable measures more seriously and into account when designing their projects. These sustainable measures include natural light maximization, energy conservation, and waste reduction.
7. ZEN SPACES
Spending so much time at home during lockdown made people realize the importance of their physical space and the impact it has on their wellbeing. More often architects and interior designers are being asked to design Zen areas that provide a space to relax and decompress. Zen areas are spaces either indoors or outdoors that are designed to bring comfort and joy to the user.
A BETTER FUTURE AHEAD
The pandemic has transformed our lives and the architecture and interior design industry forever. Even though we’re living through unprecedented and challenging times, architects and interior designers are more relevant than ever as they work arduously towards bringing solutions that provide a safe and healthy use of space for people and future generations to come.