Exploring new post-pandemic housing models through the reformulation of collective spaces E. VEZELLA
Author: Elena Verzella
The outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19 has profoundly impacted the world where we live in. Especially in the urban and architectural fields, it has posed the necessity to define new housing models, capable of responding to both ambitions and needs of the upcoming post-pandemic society. In particular, two different types of necessities have risen: social issues (the necessity of more spaces for recreation, working, exercising, ...) and environmental issues (the reduction of flood risk, urban heat islands, air pollution, ...). The argument of this paper is that it is possible to overcome this apparent dualism of targets only through the reformulation of the conventional “living” paradigm, and, specifically, through the extension of the latter beyond the (physical and conceptual) “walls” that traditionally define the idea of housing. For this purpose, the outdoor space, conceived as not a mere addition but as a structural component of the living environment, has been identified as the main field of investigation. The effects of the pandemic situation, indeed, have exacerbated the traditional contraposition between private, semi-private and public realms. However, it is exactly through the exploration of this “friction” that it is possible to generate alternative design pathways for the reconceptualization of the conventional housing models towards a social and more sustainable perspective. In particular, two different space typologies have been considered: the “in-between” space, resulting from the aggregation logics driven by the different historical settlements models; and the “residential/outdoor space interface” between private buildings and the adjoining common areas (streets, squares, parks, etc.). For each of these two categories, the paper tries to establish potential design principles, strategies and tools which can embrace the twofold necessity of creating spaces where to integrate the new recreational, social or working activities which have been making their way into the post-pandemic idea of living, but also to give possible answers to the forementioned impending climate issues. In this way, the ultimate goal is to explore how new housing models based on blurring the traditional demarcation between private and public through the reformulation on the outdoor space idea may not only improve liveability and physical and psychological health of individuals, but also entail wider-scale effects, becoming a beacon to ultimately increase identity, social inclusivity, and climate resilience of local communities.
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