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Spatial impact of New Normal

“The use of touchless sensor-based or app-based technology at work place will be the new way forward in order to prevent contact with germs”, says Shami Goregaoker, Design Director, GA design

New Normal is a term that has been almost unheard of, until recently. As the world is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, people are trying to figure out a way forward, trying to find solutions to live with this virus. Hygiene, sanitation and personal space norms have changed dramatically over the last couple of months. You no longer have to be concerned with only your personal hygiene; you also have to take precautions after coming in contact with others. This proves to be a challenge, especially in a densely populated city like Mumbai. Therefore, the new normal will have to take into consideration all of these factors to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.

From an interior designer’s perspective, it means more focus on planning and layouts of all kinds of spaces – commercial, residential or hospitality. As companies across sectors are gearing for a complete change in work environment, architects and interior designers must strategically evaluate the work styles that are likely to gain prominence and take informed decisions for the successful implementation of new work cultures. Companies are letting employees work remotely, which will automatically result in less crowded offices.

The use of touchless sensor-based or app-based technology at work place will be the new way forward in order to prevent contact with germs. Office layouts are likely to include wider spaces for movement and sanitizing booths could be placed at the entrance. Office cubicles will once again be preferred to open office layouts, where contact with others is restricted. Toilets and pantries will no longer be confined to a corner, rather they are likely to hold a place of prominence and may result in new design innovations to make them aesthetically more appealing. Again sensor-based or voice-activated technology can be used in such spaces in order to avoid the spread of germs. Carpets will be replaced with hard flooring which is easy to clean and maintain. Offices will have to be equipped with the latest technological gadgets which allow for video calls, sharing of files and virtual site visits, to reduce outdoor travel.

As far as residential spaces are concerned, the whole thought process of designing and living will undergo a radical change. After being confined to our homes for so long, we are going to look at our dwellings differently. There will be more emphasis on open spaces and healthy living with plenty of natural light and air. It will all be about the experience and enhancing and uplifting your immediate environment. The occupants will have to get used to a new lifestyle which will involve a lot of personal attention to hygiene and sanitation. Previously, our home has been one among several other spaces that we spend time in. However, now we may be restricted to spending time only at home, thereby making it a multi-functional unit. Interiors of residential spaces are likely to move towards the clutter-free and minimalist style, which involves easy maintenance and breathable spaces. Some radical changes in residential spaces may include the following:

  • Entrance lobbies in apartments will have to strategically hold sanitizer and mask dispensers.
  • Garbage shoots in high-rises will become mandatory in order to make garbage disposable a risk-free activity.
  • Touch-free sensor based technology for video-door phones and elevators will be really beneficial as the it will reduce contact drastically.
  • Home automation is likely to become popular for all new apartments as it will reduce the number of switch panels on walls and can be operated from your personal phone or other devices.

To adjust with the new normal, mankind will require modified behaviour. Regardless of a cure or the elimination of the virus, things will change permanently. Currently there are many unknowns and we cannot predict how things will go in the near future. It is imperative at this point to deal with people’s emotional health as well – there are many who have lost loved ones, many have lost their livelihood. A lot of people have suffered an emotional setback in one way or another and this aspect needs to be addressed immediately.

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