You enter your home carrying essentials that guarantee you a ‘quaran-time’ of about a week. Consumed by the fear of contaminating your home, your safe place, you hesitate.
You now find yourself in need of a ‘buffer zone’ – a place where you can leave groceries, online deliveries and humans alike, and buy yourself time to breathe easy (literally). A place that is part of your house but not your home.
The modern open plan does not work here. You need to enclose this activity and for that, historical architecture has a solution - the foyer, the hallway or the “verandah”. Integrating a wet area for cleaning up (powder toilet) and a dry one (a store), gives us Zone 1.
You have parents and children at home. The modern Indian family has thrown off the western sitcom induced sense of independence with a historically prudent sense of interdependence. Social stability and work necessitate that we live in fluid, multi-generational homes that prevent isolating the young and the elderly, while providing much-needed support to the working adults.
An enlarged kitchen is attached to a garden. You rely on home-grown produce for salads, vegetables and even the occasional fruit. Since everyone in the family cooks these days, the kitchen is open and is spectacularly clean. Everything is anti-microbial and can be wiped down.
The kitchen flows into a dining room and a living room. The open spaces provide much needed human interaction for the family - leisure for grandparents - a playroom for the kids and the dining table is a work zone for everyone. There are bedrooms for everyone and a one for the guests.
This is Zone 2
Till now, it all seems normal. Now we enter the zone of the “call”. Someone in the house is always on a call and it’s often video. You need a productive environment, a quiet space.
Unaccommodating of the mid-day naps and the running children or those sunning themselves on the balcony, the call must be taken. Here we find that WiFi has rightly earned its place at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. The call requires the strongest WiFi available, and the bandwidth is being split amongst the kids taking online classes and several instances of Prime, Netflix and Youtube.
For those of us lucky enough to have not seen the inside of a hospital this year, this is the most enduring image of the pandemic - Grown adults running out of, or into rooms, desperate for the minimal background noise necessary to have a conversation on the phone.
Your post-pandemic home will be radically different. For the foreseeable future, it has to double up as the office, the school, the mall, the gym and the city. It’s these changes that will allow us to remain productive and safe within our homes.
The experience of lockdown will, no doubt, have a lasting effect on us all. Many will be rethinking the kind of life they want to live in the post-pandemic era, along with the role their homes could play in this.