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Life after 7 months of lockdown

We felt the Covid-19 pinch as early as January because we do a lot of work with Asia and it affected their markets quickly. Although the lockdowns in Melbourne didn’t start until April, Chris and I made the executive decision to lockdown in March and we’ve been working from home ever since.

We’ve watched Melbourne endure one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. Shops, restaurants and cafes have closed everywhere, online shopping is our new normal and debating where we’re going out for dinner is just a hangover memory from last summer.

We’ll finally be coming out of lockdown next month or so. It’s an exciting and weird feeling. Of course, it’s only been seven short months, but I’m already a little apprehensive on how it will all work from hereon in.

Still though, nothing is forever, and whilst we’ve been squirrelled away at home, public environments have adapted and changed, to help us all move into a less-germ’y, more spacious future.

I’ve been talking with other designers and architects about how the pandemic has affected their teams, their workspaces and projects. There are some pretty interesting dilemmas cropping up.

I spoke with a partner of a large, Melbourne based architectural practice and she shared what’s the real issue for them. They have 100 staff in Melbourne, all of who want to come back to work in the office. Whilst she can ensure there’s enough space and ventilation for them, that’s only half of the battle. Their studio is in the city, and to get to work, the staff need to take public transport, and no one wants to do that anymore. When they arrive at the front door, they still need to get up to level 6, via a lift. How the company can logistically get 100 people up to the sixth floor in lifts, with only 2 people at a time, is a conundrum of time management.

I also spoke to another architect whose practice is working on a city-side residential apartment tower and they’re now investigating antimicrobial resistance materials (like copper) that repel or resist the cultivation and breeding of germs. Frequently touched hot spots like door handles and lift buttons have gone from being a small detail to a high priority spec detail.

On a personal note, I’ve noticed that seven months of online shopping will only take you so far. There are simply things that I can’t commit to getting online, for example: fragrance, jewellery and athletic wear. Tactility and senses are key with these purchases and seeing is believing. As simple as it is to think that we can all live and work remotely, realistically, we’re material beings living in a physical world. Getting back out into it is a little fraught, but I suspect the lure of the tactile, sensory-rich world will be too strong to resist.


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