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This article was published before Vincent & Brown became Vincent & Partners

5 ways we might see residential design change post COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s most immediate built environment.

Spare rooms, lofts & even ironing boards have become DIY workspaces, the high street has become a ghost town, and our local parks and gardens have become vital social spaces. For a lot of us the crisis has blurred the lines between living and workplace, especially in cities where residential space is at a premium.

So as the population is gradually vaccinated, and restrictions are slowly lifted, what will be the lasting effect of the pandemic? and how should the design community adapt?

01_Better External Amenities:

Lockdown measures have shown how crucial outdoor space is to our wellbeing. In the past, outdoor amenity was a premium in high rise apartment schemes, however, we are seeing a trend towards prioritising both private and public outdoor spaces over internal area. As designers, we must now work harder to integrate private and communal outdoor spaces within our schemes, ensuring residents can better reconnect with nature. For example, introduction of partially recessed balconies would create sheltered external space, which can be enjoyed all year round.

In more traditional housing, a closer connection between living spaces and the natural world is imperative. Integration of roof gardens, micro back yards, balconies and easily accessible gardens will all need to be considered to link our living spaces with the outdoors.

02_Flexible Interiors:

With many of us spending more and more time at home, especially as businesses start to embrace remote working on a long-term basis, our homes must now work even harder. Separation between work and home is key to ensure mental wellbeing. Introduction of flexible spaces, for example moving walls, or clever desk configurations will allow for even the smallest of homes to create multipurpose spaces for living, working and relaxing.

03_Introduction of Garden Offices:

Adapting the existing housing stock for our post-Covid needs is a problem many designers will face. There is potential to utilise our gardens and underutilised outdoor areas. Introduction of garden offices, separate from our existing homes, would allow for well designed, bespoke, places to work and play.

04_Enhanced Services for Home Offices:

Introduction of enhanced services provisions such as better ventilation solutions, smart heating systems, sound proofing and more consideration to locations of sockets and data points, would allow for improved home working environments.

05_Place making and Social Value

The pandemic has had a profound impact on our awareness of our surroundings, and how they affect our health and wellbeing. With many generic housing developments popping up over the country, Architects must ask themselves how place making and social value can be integrated within residential design. Strong principles such as walkability to local infrastructure, integration of bespoke green infrastructure and removal of car-dominated communities would promote socialisation and improve mental and physical health.

Vincent & Brown.

Within many of our schemes we are already implementing many of the above changes, regardless of size and budget. For example, our Gas Works scheme in York, has been designed around a large communal garden and allotment. The design of the scheme varies over the site, ensuring each block has its own character, bespoke to the area and its prevailing surroundings. A mixture of projecting and inset terraces, along with private roof top gardens, have been introduced throughout the development, creating unique apartments within the city.

We would love to know your thoughts on how our residential built environment will adapt, please get in touch via


9 Mar 2021