Homes for pandemics and beyond | Inquirer Business

Homes for pandemics and beyond

/ 04:10 AM August 22, 2020

None of us ever had to contend with COVID-19 before, so no one can claim to be truly resilient to it. However, in nearly half a year spent weathering the coronavirus, we have learned that some methods apply no longer, some beliefs need to be reframed and some ways must be rediscovered.

Since the coronavirus’ rampage began in January, we have thought and rethought many aspects of our lives. One element that went through a magnifying glass is our very residence – whether it can protect us from infection or sustain us through prolonged lockdowns, among others. The past months now make clear that some shelters are more well-built for the pandemic than others, whether it be for the values that guided them or the features that they possess.

The following homes can instruct us as individuals and communities in embracing better design, architecture and construction for the new normal and, hopefully, for any other disruptive event ahead.


Room of transformations

Hong Kong is a city notorious for expensive housing. Residents adapted by co-living and space saving. Gary Chang opted for the latter and, in doing so, managed to cram 24 configurations into his 32-square-meter space.


In 2006, inspired by the space efficiency of Hong Kong shops, he redid his unit with movable fixtures. He finished the project, “Domestic Transformer,” in 2007. The living space transforms into the sleeping quarters. The TV wall can be pulled out to reveal a kitchen. His bathtub hides behind two shelves of storage, the work desk can roll out into a dining table. In this case, it isn’t about the size.

Monastic living

The marriage woes of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West make us think about their family – and their iconic family home in Hidden Hills, California, which Vogue calls a “cathedral” of minimalism.

Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt and the couple collaborated to “purify” a fully decked home. They went on to paint the house white, take down walls, install floor-to-ceiling glass panels and feature art from Kanye’s collection.

The no-frills hallway, the sink in the master bath, and the walk-in refrigerator and pantries all went viral online.

The monastic vibe has helped the family tune out. We wish we could share the privilege.

Homes made of grass

Bamboo has gone a long way in Bali, Indonesia. After growing a brand using the Balinese technique in jewelry-making, Canadian jeweler John Hardy decided to take root there. He established Green School in 2008, and daughter Elora joined him in 2010 to create the Green Village, a riverside complex of houses and villas made with bamboo from the beams and floors to railings, furniture and walls.


To hand-construct the magnificent buildings that can go as high as six storeys, Elora founded company Ibuku, made up of skilled artisans, architects, engineers and designers ensuring that the bamboo endures the tests of time and beauty. For her pioneering work, she was named Architectural Digest Innovator in 2013.

Some local influencers got grounded in Bali and made the most of it. Imagine if, on top of that, they waited the lockdowns out in the opulent but sustainable village.

Into the woods

The hillsides of San Lorenzo de El Escorial just outside Madrid, Spain, hold an architectural gem that has gained popularity for its effort to adapt to nature. In creating a home for a fellow architect, NO MAD Studio’s Eduardo Arroyo called his project the “anti-forest” and ensured that the new dwelling would unfold with minimum impact on the trees above ground and the water below.

The project, completed in 2006, assimilated well with the landscape through a dark shell and reflective windows. Color theory demarcated the interiors into active and silent spaces, conducive for the work-life arrangement.

The great vista and generous porch invite dwellers to bask in the outdoors. The structure occupies only a third of the estate, too, so space is available for planting crops and ornaments. The nature-bound principles make the address livable in these times.

Wired address

In 2018, real estate website Curbed and tech news website The Verge partnered to create an approximation of the “Home of the Future” that focused on smart technology, energy efficiency and holistic design.

In the show, host Grant Imahara (may he rest in peace) of “Mythbusters” fame, oversaw the construction of a home in Austin, Texas featuring a prefabricated modular structure from Ma Modular, integrated solar panels and smart technology – locks, cameras, smart TV, printer, Alexa, power meter, temperature control, et al. – synced up with one platform.

The trends they cited are discussed in real estate today: a compact space with areas for leisure and work, structures that embrace the green technology and even small-scale agriculture, and technologies that help owners control and monitor their homes remotely.

Seeing the advantages in the new normal context, perhaps the future is now.

Proud and resilient

To provide a secondary city to booming Mumbai, the Indian government founded Navi (new) Mumbai. Naturally, it became a desirable address for those looking for larger spaces. For a particular project there, S+PS Architects took inspiration from Mumbai’s informal settlements and figured parts of demolished city homes into the striking “Collage House.”

The façade puts together old doors and windows. Indoors, they become awesome backdrops, most especially the living room. The structure is built like a fortress, but the amount of heritage within begs an occupant to opt for a work-from-home arrangement. True to Indian values, the courtyard is the heart of the home where family members can socialize during downtimes. So many areas in the building can be maximized for urban gardens if they want to produce their own food.

This dwelling meshes old and new and, in doing so, became a home well-designed for the challenge of COVID-19.


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Domestic Transformer:
West house:
Bamboo houses:
Casa Levene:
House of the Future:
Collage House:

TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, New normal

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