‘We all trace our nationalities to different countries, but we are all in the same pandemic.”
We have all been affected by the pandemic in different ways. Most of us were subjected to house quarantine. That has allowed us the opportunity to deeply rediscover ourselves and our circle of associates. Thus, we will focus on our environment (our households), our social life, and our bank accounts as the basis for sustainable architecture.
* Our households (the environmental factor)
When the pandemic closed off all cities, birds returned to soar freely in the clear skies of freedom empty of airplanes. And animals, that spent most of their life in hiding, roamed over abandoned roads. Adoringly, marine environments regained their fruitfulness away from human disturbances.
After factories and construction activities were halted, Mother Earth started to breath and retrieve pure air that had been chained since the industrial revolution. In Kuwait, for example, the summer of 2020 had been of a lesser average temperature than the summer of 2019. However, in stark contrast, the greenery in Kuwait turned yellow because of the closures of the botanical services companies during the lockdown.
During this adversity, we started spending 100% of our time inside our homes, while prior to COVID-19, we spent approximately 90% of our time under the roofs of different structures. The role of our homes prior to this pandemic was limited to our bare necessities. It has become the singular roof for all our activities.
Corona changed our houses to include all facets of our lives such as schooling, salon, spa, shopping center (online from home), restaurant, work office, health club, cinema, and home based world tourism.
This experience allowed us to recognize the extent of our homes’ validity relevant to our needs. More importantly, it made us realize whether our homes were actually fit for living.
Some people noticed the extent of their need for natural lighting and aeration and greenery inside the household. Others gave feedback that their homes were either larger or smaller than their actual needs.
* Our social life (the social factor)
During the home quarantine, there weren’t any activities or occasions or any other type of interactions outside the household. We became in touch with ourselves and our surroundings. This synchronization helped many of us to understand all that matters to our homes in terms of basic requirements, basic design style, and most importantly the budget.
Interaction became virtual. Thus, people hurried to purchase a comfortable desk and providing a space for it, which made it a primal living requirement. It became a necessity for every household member whether a student, a public sector employee, or private sector employee. From a different perspective, our clients started focusing on the importance of the elements of space and greenery in their homes. In addition, they started paying attention to their home design styles, the finishing materials and its specifications as it pertains to cleaning and its ability to absorb bacteria and mold. And with regards to new home owners, the current circumstances enlightened their vision to give more priority to the size and position of their public and private location in general.
* Our bank accounts (the economical factor)
All governments suffered from the economical collapses that suffocated all levels internationally, especially the private sector. Some of the government and private sector services were converted to cyber solutions, but due to new health laws and regulations, such as quarantines and social distancing, the economic growth shrank and was limited, if it did not get worse.
Based on the above, I believe that it is incumbent upon us as international citizens to continue, as we were during the lockdown, to be in touch with ourselves through our environment, society and economical changes as one body in pursuit of continuous growth on all fronts.
Only then, architecture and cities will grow and prosper and our Mother Earth will breathe new life again.
By Fajer Al Hendi
Int’l Assoc. AIA, NCARB
Kuwait Country Representative