“Extraordinary times” require extraordinary design. What Can Architecture Do for our Health?
On 17 November 2019, a COVID-19 case was first reported in Wuhan, Hubei, China. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic, as over 138,000 cases have been confirmed in more than 130 countries and territories and at least 3,300 people have died from the disease. Over the course of a few days, the lives of millions of people have drastically changed.
Public health responses around the world have included travel restrictions, curfews, event cancellations, school closures as well as quarantines of all of Italy and the Chinese province of Hubei. In the name of public security, state authorities have implemented screening methods at airports and train stations and excessive coronavirus public monitoring, such as facial recognition technology that can detect elevated temperatures in a crowd or flag citizens not wearing a face mask, while apps use the personal health data of citizens.
In the meanwhile, millions of people are isolated inside a new type of bunker. In the Hubei Province, a new 25 thousand square meter hospital was constructed in only 10 days. Worldwide effects of the pandemic also include social and economic instability, xenophobia and racism and “voluntary prisoners” encouraged by stay-at-home movements.
Architecture shapes Disease cities. When the needs of citizens change, so do their cities and their homes.
There is a strong connection between health and architecture. Since ancient times, health care has been associated with the construction and use of specialized medical buildings and structures. Architecture helps shape the quality of our environments and can contribute to health and wellbeing. Topics concerning health have always been stimulating architectural innovations at different scales: territorial and urban development projects as well as architectural and interior design.
Health has often stimulated speculative design and experimental proposals within the architectural discipline as many works of famous architects, such as Alvar Aalto, Franco Albini, Ignazio Gardella and the theories of Le Corbusier, give attention to the psychological and physical well-being. Furthermore, hospitals adopted architectural features thought to promote health and limit disease spread while architects designed operating rooms and clinical spaces for utilitarian purposes — namely, maintaining a well-lit, aseptic environment. During the cholera outbreak in London, in 1856, Frederick Marrable was assigned to design the Metropolitan Board of Works in order to provide sanitary infrastructure.
In today’s largely urban and interconnected world, infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies pose a real threat to large cities. Pandemic Realities addresses the spatial configurations, modes of living, and notions of the human body engendered by disruptive public health crises such as Covid-19 outbreak.
As the world faces new globalized health threats, there is a need to design the home/ the city of tomorrow, living in times whereas pandemics and viruses will be part of our everyday life.
By designing for the needs of a pandemic reality, architects act as guarantors and guardians of the Public Health of a community. Virus outbreaks have their impact on urban space as well as on the living of millions of people.
In managing any public health crisis, the design of a city will have two overall tasks:
- dealing with the sudden large number of sick people
- keeping city life as normal as possible for everyone else
First, in the case of an emergency due to an epidemic or pandemic disease, a city is confronted with large-scale needs in supplies, medical spaces and cemeteries. Second, designing places of living in the future should not only take into account functional spaces for individual and collective needs, but should also protect health, as humans spend more and more of their time isolated in built spaces.
When millions of people are isolated and working from home, what features should a home have? When people can't travel, what is the role of the hotels? When crowds are not allowed at public spaces, how cities and public spaces change? In terms of health centres and interior design, what are the hygienic architectural details of the pandemic reality?
Pandemic Architecture Competition attempts to open up a dialogue and create a think tank, looking for ideas from the architectural and design community about the future of the living, the workspace, the public space and the tourism industry.
Urbanists, architects, designers, students, artists, performers and authors are invited to submit their ideas on Pandemic Architecture. Proposals should be based on a realistic situation or on science fiction and should focus on territorial and urban development projects or architectural and interior design.
“…. Maybe something concretely practical? Buildings that can self-clean, that have features that make it easier to self isolate, bigger freezers, reserve freezers/pantries in basements so apartment buildings get the features a typical US home has, with those freaky garages full of huge freezers (obviously these wouldn't run during good times, just be there so people can hunker down if needs be.)
Built in Skype screens or some sort of screen comms in each flat so people who might not have laptops can communicate. (There was a sad scene from Spain, one retirement home completely infected and on lockdown, staff don't pick up phones and relatives can't get ahold of their parents, don't even know if they're sick. Bodies cremated immediately to prevent spreading the disease so maybe not even a funeral? This guy was trying to force his way in to check on his dad but they wouldn't let him in.) OK, very corona centric but it seems that we have to expect this will continue in various forms.
Ability to grow food on rooftop terraces, sides of buildings, some sort of hoist-system so you can sow, maintain and harvest...
Absence of touch and human company - things that can alleviate loneliness...big soft shapes you can stroke or cuddle up to? AI pets or servants?
These things will matter more in the end than 'luxurious' touches like marble bath rooms. Ability to air out houses effectively also important…..” — thoughts came from someone recovering from a manageable case of the CV-19
Rethink/ReDesign 1. Emergency design (City Strategies, Hospitals, Cemeteries, Sanitary Spaces etc) 2. Living (Homes, Workspaces, Apartments, Public Spaces, Hotels etc)
Submission Requirements I. Material containing 3-10 images /drawings /renders / collages / animation II. Text describing the concept (500 words) I + II will be evaluated by the jury.
III. 1 video narrative (2-3 minutes) of the authors explaining their concept in black and white Questions to be answered in the video: - Describe us your scenario/concept. - Which questions does your proposal address? - What Can Architecture Do for our Health? - What role must and should have the architects facing public health emergencies? The deliverables can only be submitted in digital files.
Criteria The evaluation of entries will be based on the following criteria:
- Innovation, originality, creativity of the proposal
- General impression and clarity of the overall concept