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Designing Outdoor Areas and Spaces After a Pandemic

Even as cities and governments the world over are trying to find new ways to get over the economic and psychological hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic, many architects and designers are trying to imagine new landscapes and home designs that would conform to what is the ‘new normal’.

Many are asking questions: What does social distancing mean for designing outdoor spaces? And what would the new normal mean for homeowners and designers? For now, many of them are also stuck at home, poring over designs and projects left mid-construction. But some have found ways to make things work and used their outdoor areas to grow plants for their clients. Others have been able to continue with their projects but with limited personnel and social interaction. For many, the pandemic is an opportunity for people to value landscape design, whether for their homes or public spaces.

Dealing with Health Risks 

Many are considering how social distancing could affect people’s perception of public spaces, but also how outdoor design could lessen the risk and help people feel safe and secure. City planners and landscape designers are now exploring how they could recreate public areas such as plazas and parks. These could include larger paths and walkways, and even strict entrances and exits to monitor the number of people entering an area.

Understandably big social gatherings such as parties and concerts would still be restricted, but many people are eager to go outside once more, even if for a limited time. Designers and architects are positive that the general public is now more interested in the outdoors. Also, they know that people have seen the value of creating spaces in their homes that would give them a piece of greenery.

Your Own Private Garden

The pandemic has also revealed the importance of an outdoor area in a home. The months of staying indoors have made people understand the value of connecting with nature. Having a bit of greenery helps in maintaining mental health, and even the activities in these outdoor spaces could provide psychological support in these times. Designers are very positive that more homeowners will be more open in creating an outdoor space for their families.

Looking Beyond the Pandemic

Though many are still struggling with this global crisis, some designers are starting to look beyond COVID-19. Landscape architect Kate Orff wants to focus on ecology, and connect them with policy and infrastructure. A recipient of the MacArthur ‘genius’ Award, Orff is the lead designer of a restoration project off Staten Island meant to lessen the effect of storm surges. Designers like her are trying to make landscape design not only for parks and private homes but also for the community.

But Orff sees a connection between her community projects and what people do when they design their gardens. She says people need to see a connection between their small patch of earth and the global situation. And amidst this pandemic, people are now coming to know the value of bridging nature with good landscape design.

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