COVID-19 already influencing new home and condo design – experts
COVID-19 is challenging all kinds of things about life in Canada – including the way we live and work. Our panel of experts share their insights on the new home and condo design changes already taking place.
COVID-19 has transformed our homes into our offices, classrooms, gyms, and playgrounds. Our homes need to encourage physical and mental health. To support the growing roles of our homes, flexibility in design will be key. For remote workers, we’ll need to prioritize flex spaces which offer natural light, plus acoustical and visual privacy to maintain separation between work and homelife.
Building amenities such as the coworking space offered in Broccolini’s River & Fifth and upcoming LeftBank projects can make this possible for residents with less space. For material selection, we’ll continue to prioritize durability and cleaning ease, incorporating choices such as quartz countertops and porcelain tiles in residences and amenity spaces.
Design Manager, Broccolini
There’s no question that moving forward people will continue to work from home if they’re able to, and that decision will greatly affect how people choose to design their new homes or condominiums in this new normal. Our space will have to be very functional, livable and afford us the room we need to work. There will be great emphasis on building out multi-purpose rooms that have the ability to work smarter for us and take full advantage of square footage.
There’s great power in good design. A living room equipped with bookshelves and a console table could function as an office, whereas a guest bedroom could also have built-in desk and storage solutions to offer the same value. It’s less about dedicating a specific room as an office and instead making certain rooms offer dual functions.
Flexible spaces are a great way to reconcile livability with affordability. In response to the working- from-home reality, we have started exploring the idea of co-ownership condo suites with a shared flexible zone that would allow two potential owners to share a home office space.
In multi-unit condo design where space is typically very efficient, we are looking beyond the four walls of each suite in order to find flexible and cost-effective design solutions through cost sharing. We think shared indoor and outdoor amenity areas with generous, strategically located flexible spaces designed with functionality, wellness and technology features would be very marketable. This way, a potential buyer might opt to pay more to buy into a building where there are options to work from home, but not always within the confines of the walls in his condo suite.
We have been seeing the trend in work-from-home increase over the past decade. Urban professionals long to eliminate a commute to gain more time for family and personal pursuits. There is also a desire to work in a more informal environment with comfort of home conveniences. Our clients are looking for uncluttered living spaces, timeless design and large windows affording views and plenty of natural light.
We understand that a condominium amenity space is an integral part of a building. A well-designed amenity should remain flexible, be attractive to many and facilitate future ways that we will work and inhabit our homes. At our 1414 Bayview project, the flexible amenity space is realized within a series of grand rooms, including a large communal table, for formal and informal lounging and working.
Our firm believes that a well-designed living space continues outdoors. Private, open-air retreats remain a top priority for our clients, especially in these unprecedented times. Several of the upper units at 1414 Bayview have access to large private terraces which will allow for outdoor lounging, entertaining and even working, from the comforts of home.
Stephanie Vermeulen & Kelly Doyle
for Gairloch Developments
Sixteen Degree Studio
An open concept floorplan has generally been the defining characteristic of new home design for years. The possibility of the new norm remaining suggests that flexible private areas such as home offices, gyms and playrooms with acoustic insulation are no longer a luxury but a necessity. In lowrise homes, functional finished lower levels offer additional space at an affordable price while eliminating impact to main floor principal rooms. Extensions to the outdoors from traditional living spaces will become more valued. Enlarged windows, covered porch and patio areas, walkouts when possible all help provide a sanctuary without leaving the home.
Interior Design Coordinator
In the new reality of a COVID-19 world, more people will be working from their home. This isn’t necessarily new, it’s just going to become so much more prevalent now.
In most homes, the trend towards the more open concept designs over the last decade does allow for flex space on the ground floor, but that same design comes with distractions in the form of noise and other people.
The easiest solution would be to carve out some “office space” in an existing bedroom or the basement area where daytime distractions would be minimized.
Bedrooms can be modified to have a desk niche, in lieu of a closet or have a murphy bed setup that allows for lots of additional daytime space. Also, in some homes, the laundry room could be moved to the basement, and that space becomes ideal office space.
Of utmost importance is that you have your Internet connections and modems of the highest speed and quality – so that you can ensure connectivity everywhere in the house. That way you can move around the home as needed – so that morning meeting can be had with a coffee on the front porch. Good technology is key.
Chief Operating Officer
Acquisition & Housing
Within condos, technology must be elevated to offer keyless entry, parcel drop-off and virtual platforms which can keep residents connected. Amenities should include breakout rooms and pods that facilitate continued amenity independent use, with greater emphasis on easily disinfected surfaces. There will be value to designs that can prioritize private outdoor spaces, and offer provisions for full-time work/study for multiple people, separating work and personal life within a single space.
We must use the events of COVID-19 to think about the resilience of systems and spaces, without losing track of the importance of designing spaces that promote well-being through community and connection.
Director, Product Development
Remote work spaces can take many forms. In larger homes, a dedicated office can work for one or two members of a household. For smaller homes, an alcove off a hallway with pocket doors for audible separation, similar to an office cubicle, may be all that is needed.
Glass partitions can be incorporated to allow a parent to keep an eye on their little ones, while still having a noise separation. If distractions in the home are not an issue, the main living space can be used as a flex space. Built-in desks with accessible outlets, such as National’s signature “Family Centre,” can be the perfect space to work from.