Architect Rajiv Parekh, Founding Partner of Red Architects, tells us how HNIs and UNHIs are designing their homes post the COVID lockdown.
Designing for the well-traveled and wealthy is always challenging, as the attention to detail they expect, and demand is, sometimes, back-breaking, but that also pushes you to innovate constantly. Our experience with discerning clients has taught us that we, as a
design practice, must be attentive to the idiosyncrasies of the end-user and allow our clients to focus on what brings them joy.
A large part of design is about correctly predicting what possible needs may arise from a client base. We put ourselves in the shoes of the end user and go through the motions of life in the spaces we design. We, as designers must be experts in psychology, astrology, smart technology, machine learning, etc.
In the current times, we believe that the new trends will come from the ‘experience’ of living with COVID, which has, forever, changed the way we live and interact with our environment and with each other. Some of the trends that we foresee are listed below for our readers to evaluate, agree or disagree.
Most homeowners today imagine their home as a safe haven, a retreat where they can insulate themselves from the stresses of interactions with the outside world.
Study and home office
Earlier, there would just be one home office in one’s home. Now, we have a study room, home office, video call room for each resident as that is where they will either home school or work from. We have started designing these spaces like we used to do the CISCO tele presence rooms with great acoustics and lighting, designed to highlight a person sitting across a screen.
Health and fitness rooms
Despite the resources, some HNIs and UNHIs would prefer working in a gymnasium of the nearest F-star hotels with the friends and not spend on building the fitness room in their home. But now, after the lockdown, we are being asked to design a spacious, well-lit gym with indoor and outdoor work out areas and a large LED screen for virtual training.
Masterchef level kitchens
People have now started engaging with professional chefs instead of the traditional ‘maharaj’. They want to savour a variety of dishes cooked right at home. As an add on, we have also started designing dining areas in different parts of the home for a varying home dining experience.
Home theatres have long been a part of homes. It’s not a new trend, but today, people are willing to go the extra mile to make them larger, to accommodate groups of friends and family members, and better equipped with quality sound.
Better staff quarters
Clients now prefer full-time service staff over part-time employees. Our clients want to stay them in the house and not leave and return every day. Hence, we have been designing staff quarters to accommodate a staff member’s entire family within the residential space.
Storeroom, cold storage and pantry ladders
Keeping in mind the unpredictable nature of the new world and the almost instantaneous declarations of change in rules by governments to deal with crises, people now want storages that will allow them to stockpile supplies for upwards of 6 months for non-perishable and perishable food items and toiletries. Our associated vendors are even helping create technology that will help our clients keep track of these supplies as they diminish or expire, helping them restock.
Back-up for back-up
Multiple internet providers are now a default, which we, traditionally, made room for only in large offices. We are doing that for a home now. Fibre connectivity with, at least, two and sometime even three different suppliers is the norm. Moreover, one IT person, who lives close in the vicinity, is hired to manage all automation, connectivity, video conference calls, etc.
Not just air-conditioning, making space for heating and ventilation systems inside homes, is now a requirement. Some predict that the next virus will be airborne. It will thus be critical to have the best possible air circulation systems, which are usually used in theatres.
Different lobbies for entry and exit being defined for: Visiting staff. The spaces must have an area where people can wash up and change into sanitised attire. Visitors and gusts: They are being asked to UV sanitize their devices, wait in lock lobbies, which are designed to look like meeting lounges, but that is where small meetings are conducted and completed. Products: These are sanitized thoroughly in the product lock lobby, next to service entries. Sometimes left in these areas for 24 to 48 hours before being brought inside the house.
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