Can design and architecture prevent the social panic and the community disease for the next decades? From the “work at home” to the “work as home”.
We are experiencing an historical moment that will surely influence our behavior for the next decades. In the recent years sharing economy and globalization have changed consumerism and our way of life. The preposition “CO” has been introduced from the private sector to the public sector in each single term: co-living, co-working, co-housing and much more. Sociability, interaction and co-sharing represented the business models for the most capitalized businesses, thus defining the way to design and build public and private spaces. In all this, design and architecture have represented a silent factor that has drastically changed the way we perceive offices, residences and commercial spaces.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the optimism of a shareable perfect world has evaporated in the name of closure and isolation. Co-working and co-living are currently the worst business model as well as the worst place to work or stay. People no longer want to stay in these congested spaces, because the minimum distance to avoid contagion is not respected. People don’t feel as home and the real estate asset in not anymore profitable. All the employees after this drama will be scared, looking for the most isolated space possible to avoid any kind of contact.
How can it be solved?
Even if at the moment smart working represents the only solution, the future of commercial real estate won't be in the creation of armored places but in the rethinking of the design and investment method: from "work at home " to “work as home”.
For years, in every project I’ve been trying to convey to the investor the importance of the "unfilled" space.
In every investment we cannot, even more today, allow ourselves to insert people in a building as numbers associated with an "Existenzminimum" or more commonly with a minimum surface as the usual way of thinking of developers or company policies.
Not anymore open space concept "tabula rasa" which has transformed our building heritage into boxes full of rented and congested desks.
We must rethink the spaces, internal spaces that must have, both private and public, different levels of promiscuity, privacy, opening and closing. Spaces that must allow isolated work and also socializing. In order to counter this dramatic situation, design, architecture and investments linked to the Real Estate sector must also play their part and not be continually guided by the "disease" of exploiting the square meter.
This drama will certainly bring psychological consequences that will transform our relationships and our use of space, our way of working in a community. In our small way also designers and architects must help in this process of rebuilding trust in being together and working together.
For this reason architecture of the coming decades must be coscient, measured and balanced. A place to discover, where you can also isolate yourself and express your best and feel safe. A place to feel as home without creating damage to one's colleagues and despite everything still feeling like part of a world that does not protect itself but that grows consciously.
For large companies and multinationals with thousands of employees, I believe in a turnaround in the management of real estate assets. No more enormous headquarters as container of desks, but a return to the decentralization of the workspaces closer to the territory and to the people with the further purpose of employees safety.
I believe in small communities held together by the technology and values of the company itself. I see the future of workspace connected and built for a human scale even in an era of multinationals and globalization.