Architects rethinking the future of residential design point to storage of food and cleaning supplies being a valued characteristic along with multi-functional/adaptable rooms that can go from living spaces to working spaces for children and adults, smaller units that are affordable, furniture with antimicrobial and easy-to-clean fabrics and materials, and touchless sensor-operated appliances to limit germ spread.


United States

Photo credit: Tasoulla Hadjiyanni

Staples in many restaurants, hotels, and other establishments and valued for the freedom they provide are self-serve salad bars and all-you-can-eat buffets. Because such an arrangement relies on customers sharing utensils and dispensers to get access to the food, these types of operations face an uncertain future in the age of coronavirus. “Sneeze guards” are now more extensively used and utensils must be disposable or switched often. 

As companies reopen, a Gallup survey found that about 60% of Americans would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible and some companies plan to do the same. In addition to rethinking the open office plan, businesses can explore flexibility such as collaborating virtually instead of physically and ways to foster relationships. Pri Shah, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management notes, this experience “might empower people to actually create environments that could be better suited for their lifestyle and personality.”

Paterson, NJ is a city that faces higher rates of infection than other areas, partly because of its higher population density, language barriers, and more low-income residents. The city is fostering innovation through forging a community response that relies more heavily on trusted local residents to perform essential tasks, such as contact tracing and distribution of masks and quarantine kits. Paterson is not a stranger to innovation – it has formed an Innovation Team, based in the city hall, that will deploy a range of strategies, including quantitative and qualitative research and design-based innovation, to bring solutions to the city’s most pressing problems. 

Restarting factories is instrumental to the economy. Safety measures include a weld curtain that hangs over the chassis line at FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan to protect employees from the spread and transmission of coronavirus and a break table at Fiat Chrysler’s Warren Stamping Plant in Michigan that includes barriers to protect workers.