Architecture and technology: Designing for the post-COVID world

The team-up of architectural design and technology can offer numerous solutions to address the current crisis on COVID-19 and future pandemics when they happen.

Structures like offices, residential spaces, resorts and hotels, and business or commercial spaces may already have the usual hand sanitizing stations and even UV lighting to fight germs. But other organizations here and abroad are doing much more — check out these ingenious and practical solutions.

Making the air safer

Some designers and architects are opting for more natural ventilation and increasing filtration. Others are choosing to increase the number of HVAC zones, keeping the relative humidity between 40 to 60 percent, and using HEPA filters all throughout. The air can be cleaned using bi-polar ionization, aside from the more common UVC lighting.

Structural solutions

In offices, people are building more outdoor meeting areas using lightweight, moveable furniture, power outlets, wifi connection, and simple shading designs. Inside the offices, there may be huge signages to show people where to prepare the food in the pantry or where to walk in the hallways, etc. 

It’s the same for residential buildings — architects and developers are building more open-air spaces like roof gardens and huge communal balconies. Furniture can be moved around so the residents have the option to personalize their space and make tiny pods.

Inside the unit, the kitchen sink may be placed near the entrance so residents and guests can wash their hands immediately upon entry. The small terraces are also being pushed inward instead of the usual cantilevered outward design. This gives the unit owners some shade from the strong sun.

Touchless technology

Viruses and bacteria are highly transmissible via contaminated surfaces like door handles, elevator buttons, and other high-touch surfaces. That’s why designers and building administrators have started to implement a touchless, automated entry system that uses facial recognition. 

For elevators, it’s either the voice-activated sensors or a call-in system via the user’s cell phone. Even bathroom and stall doors can be made touchless by using a high-tech system or low-tech, foot-operated door openers, which Google offices are already using. Touching door handles and door surfaces may be eliminated by simply adding lights in the hallway to indicate whether facilities, restrooms, and other rooms are in use.