The concept of ‘space’ has become a much-spoken about topic during the pandemic. Those working from home have struggled to find a ‘space to work’, children have battled to find a quiet ‘space to learn’, and those without shelter have been encouraged to find a ‘space to call home’ for their own safety.
Where once the discussion about ‘space’ focused narrowly on the ability to find a physical home for oneself and family, the battle-lines have been drawn more widely since lockdown. Instead, we now talk about how single spaces can form many functions: a front room can be transformed in to a school, work-space, yoga studio, or retreat.
Moreover, space is no longer a physical construct. Online platforms allowing children to learn, access lectures and speak with friends, has provided more digital ‘space’ to be creative and grow our imaginations. Likewise, only through the advent of cloud technology and more intelligent home-working has large swathes of the public and private sector kept working.
Long after the current lockdown, the question of ‘space’ will remain. First, what to do with those spaces we have created for the current pandemic. Should unused community facilities acquisitioned for vaccine delivery be returned to their previous state or transformed in to new communal hubs? Should learning spaces at home be encouraged, with resources made available so children can learn whenever – and wherever – they want?
Second, we need to look about how we design ‘spaces’ in the future. New geospatial technology is being developed to allow us to make better use of the environment around us. We need to develop housing which meets the needs of a more flexible workforce, hospitals which have the space to respond to the public health issues of the future, and easy-to-access digital spaces which allow for collaboration.