Why COVID-19 Blog?
Architect resilience Post COVID-19? This cannot be understated. The idea of writing a blog on COVID-19 for most of us is a no-brainer, as all of us are directly affected by this pandemic. As a lecturer, COVID-19 brings the issue of distance learning to a fore to me. Distance learning will become necessary to sustain architectural education. Just 6 weeks ago, I was developing my electronic lectures for my convenience. Today COVID-19 puts me under pressure to prepare on- line lectures before universities resume.
As a researcher, I love charting trends and engaging my students in the latest global issues that affect the architect. COVID-19 is an unfolding issue that I am struggling to keep up with daily.
The Unlikely “Brief”
In architecture, a brief is a statement of a client’s requirements, which forms the basis for appointing an architect. By redefining personal space zones, the architect is in effect creating a proactive response to the peculiarities of this virus. This is because a major way of circumventing the spread of COVID-19 is through maintaining social distance and safety zones. The Nigerian architect should take a proactive posture of resilience in response to a Post COVID-19 world “brief”.
The Architect a Prophet?
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The architect must be a prophet… if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him an architect”. I am not sure any of us architects saw this coming. In the medical world however, scientists had anticipated corona virus pandemics and possible solutions in the past ten years.
Much ado about Social Distance
How do we address the architect’s dilemma of maintaining social distancing design resilience in a Post COVID-19 Nigeria? A reactive Response? A small percentage of what I have read on social media suggests a reactionary rather than proactive posture to this pandemic. I believe that we should look beyond the clampdown on conspiracy theories of 5G which are the rave of the moment. We should probably start with a redefinition of Edward T. Hall’s classic The Hidden Dimension four zones of personal space. The challenges of social distance and spatial adaptability are of paramount importance in a Post COVID-19 world.
As Nigerian architects, its vital that we address the reality of social distancing within our cultural context. The world of Hall (1969) was much smaller in population and less diverse. The concerns were mostly euro-centric without much thought to the diversity of cultural proxemics. The four personal zones should be updated to address Nigeria’s cultural diversity. The zones must also be updated to handle Post COVID-19 realities. However, our sheer population figures work against the achieving the ideal social zone or distance.
A Case Study of a Bank
A nameless bank I visited just before the lock down limited the numbers of people accessing the banking hall at a time. Unfortunately, they did little or nothing to address the teeming masses waiting for their turns outside. As social engineers, we need to address this phenomena through design. We must also consider the use of virus resistant barrier materials. This consideration is important especially in the provision of ATM galleries, teller points and even the automated means of ingress into the banking hall.
Noah’s Ark and Dinosaurs!
It seems difficult to see light at the end of the long tunnel. We must be able to conceive alternative possibilities. It’s hard to believe in dinosaurs. However, there’s ample evidence to support they once roamed the earth. Alternative possibilities require architects to be proactive like Noah was. Imagine working on a large structure for 120 years on dry land far away any water body with no rain in sight! Yet Noah built the flood resilient structure known as the ark. A triple Decker structure to house a large and diverse animal population for a little over a year while it rained cats and dogs for 40 continuous days (no pun intended).
I believe we will come through this experience by God’s grace- clear minded and resilient, like Noah‘s family from the ark. We really have no choice but to be resilient – we cannot afford to be like the dinosaurs which became extinct. Perhaps because they lacked resilience?