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2019 - the year which gives Covid-19 its name - wore the now worn out phrase ‘business as usual’ for many of us. Busy, distracted lives led via a mindless routine, commuting with strangers to a stale office with distant colleagues.
Yet Covid-19 has brought 2020 to a panicked stillness. We go into isolation, we are separated from loved ones and strangers alike, divorcing us from the analogue feeling of human connection. Yet we are connected by an overwhelming common purpose, a solidarity and compassion for those suffering around us. Confined to our immediate surroundings, how can we utilise this break, shake up our routine and get the best out of our locality, ourselves and each other?
Lockdown freezes the city, vacating buildings that were once so full of life. What if these empty spaces could be repurposed? We have seen how quickly a stadium becomes a hospital, treating our physical health; now let's see how our local spaces can transform to treat the community, our mental health.
Local Workspace Finder:
With the world asked to ‘work from home’ overnight, our living spaces must adapt to accommodate work into our personal lives. Yet space distribution hasn’t played out evenly. We don’t all have access to a safe 2m radius, conducive work environments or stable connections - digital or analogue. We search for new forms of working and living.
Repurposed Lockdown Workspace:
A series of workspaces arrive, distributed throughout neighbourhoods. Vacant spaces - churches, parks, schools, leisure centres - get a new sense of life. A single mother finally finds enough desk space, adequate Wi-Fi to continue work. Her neighbour, furloughed and isolated from their own children, watches her kids for a couple of hours. Safe human connection is facilitated, with a varied routine, a shared environment - needs that have been undervalued for so long.
Post Lockdown Hybridisation:
As we move towards the next phase, the calls for ‘no return to normal!’ are heard. These values have been recognised now, and our interventions have given them a physical presence. As we lift restrictions, bring infrastructure back into life and routines adjust once again, what will have changed?
The crisis has been a wake up call, so much more than an infectious microbe but a light shining on a deeper sickness. As we tentatively reintegrate what we have paused and missed, we settle into healthier ways to support ourselves, each other and the world around us. We no longer need to produce so much stuff, travel so often, commute every day. Our local environment provides more than we had ever appreciated and we resolve to revalue work within our very community too.
Our work and home lives have been meshed and we have an opportunity to find a new balance. The interventions remain, fuse with existing infrastructure to create new home-work hybrids. Our routines incorporate variety, stimulation, new connections. We use this time of mass behaviour change not just to bounce back, but to bounce forward.
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