As the world is slowly opening up from an extended lockdown, people are increasingly trying to adapt to the new way of life. Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ is not an easy affair – be it for people or the industries.
Covid has left industries flipping their balance sheets. While finance and liquidity is a known challenge, real estate has a bigger responsibility in hand—designing houses for the post-pandemic world. In an era of viruses and infections, people need a house that can effectively provide self-isolation.
Akshaya Developers has put its foot on the accelerator. As per an article published in The Hindu Business Line, this Chennai-based realty firm is planning to suitably redesign homes where an exclusive room comes with an “office-like feel”. This way, individuals and working couples can balance daily living with office-related work. There is also plan to add exclusive rooms for hygiene and quarantine.
Designing home office spaces
With the pandemic plaguing the world, firms were left with no option but to allow staff to work from home, making remote working a reality. For the deskbound, Zoom meetings are the new truth.
The temporary corners of a room are the new ‘dedicated workspaces’. Adults with kids have to take into account frequent distractions throughout the day, making it critical for them to have a professional workspace. Likewise, for students studying from home. All this hints at how the developers will need to plan future homes since work from home is likely to become the norm.
Future homes will need to have office spaces built purposefully, with provision of good light, keeping in view the numerous hours to be spent there.
Soundproofing between the walls to tackle distractions from home will be another area to look at. Developers will be expected to come up with homes that have digital connectivity and the design could be changed to look aesthetically good on a screen.
To reproduce the office environment, room sizes could also see a change to incorporate flexibility. The location of the room will also be key, as privacy holds significance while working from home. Sufficient storage space will be required for office files, stationary and other items in the home office. Where apartment size is small, multi-purpose furniture could be used.
In the times ahead, developers could provide an additional room for office setups in the upcoming projects. Other extra rooms like meditation areas could be converted into cubicles to facilitate the work from home regime.
Tabling the House Map
Amenity space would need a ‘realty check’ and vacant space facing sunlight might need to be repurposed for more useful activities. Developers are likely to opt for a closed scheme with enough space for separate activities, ditching the open plan that has been in trend since the last few years.
Kitchens will become more important as reluctance towards ordering food has increased. Cooking has risen after people have turned to the kitchen, both for necessity and enjoyment. This may push developers to carve out extra storage space for groceries.
We might also witness an extension in the common passage of the residential apartments, leading directly to a particular room, wherein the owners can invite their guests.
With gyms closed for more than two months now, people have resorted to home workout regimen. Wellness at home will be in focus. So, utilising extra space and making place for a home-gym seems a likely option.
Outdoor spaces like parks and promenades, considered the “lungs for cities” have been shut to the public during the lockdown. This has brought back the importance of private outdoor spaces like balconies and terraces and is likely to see a comeback in cities like Mumbai.
In a situation where people want to reduce contact as much as possible, the coming years could see a demand for low-rise buildings of independent homes. “More than an escape from the urban routine chaos, independent houses tend to offer a retreat from viruses and infection. It is quite likely that properties nestled in the suburbs would gain significant traction in the ensuing years,” said 99 acres in a report on its website.
Green environment and hygiene
The killer disease has provoked an urgent response from developers to uplift hygiene, making no-touch faucets for the residents a ‘new reality’. This could facilitate the adoption of smart housing. While devices that operate by touch or motion are in trend, voice-controlled interfaces will become more popular. However, concerns around privacy and ease of use will be a hurdle to cross for quicker adoption.
Keeping in view the environmental aspect, indoor greening will boom. There will also be a rise in the construction of vertical gardens as it is proven that physical interaction with living plants is good for our mental health – especially at a time when mental problems have escalated during lockdown. Hygiene products will also be trending along with antibacterial and antimicrobial surfaces such as porcelain tiles, quartz, granite and so on. Others like copper and krion may become more common for countertops and bathroom finishes. Addition of a decontamination area, a sanitary station and a sink for hand-washing, at every entrance to the home could become mandatory. Building secure areas for contactless delivery of packages, groceries, and meals will become commonplace.
The newly constructed houses will provide an opportunity to take a transformational leap towards sustainable real estate. There could be no better time than this for the explosion of green buildings that have been trying to pick up for a few years now.
As meetings and social gatherings have taken to Zoom, socially hungry people are craving for human contact while there is none. The new normal will be about spending less time with work colleagues but finding connections in our neighbourhood communities. While meeting people won’t be the same, the relationships built in and around the community could hold a lot more value than during normal times.
The importance of de-cluttering is another learning as the world stays at home. The pandemic is likely to encourage people to buy less stuff and free up space for post pandemic living. There will be many more attractive discoveries ahead and it will be compelling to watch how these learnings reshape the houses and place-making in the post-covid era.
(Edited by Anu Choudary)
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