The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted us to reassess how we want to live in the future, focusing attention on the desire to work from home, at least part of the time. In turn this has created an opportunity to reimagine a new way of living that is responsive to different and more varied modes of working.
The current shift to home working is not new. The notion of telecommuting was conceived during the first oil crisis in the early 1970s and although the digital transformation of work in the last 10 years has been gaining pace, the pandemic has given remote working a new sense of urgency.
But homes today are not designed for hours spent in front of a screen. Neither are most homes organised with space that can be subdivided for work in the day and then released back into domestic use in the evening. Some of these issues have been raised by the Museum of the Home's Stay Home project.
As urbanism and designer Dan Hill writes in the Slowdown Papers, “The home is now full of hacks for workspaces, with repurposed cellars, hallways, staircases, kitchen tables. There are stories of people making ironing boards into impromptu standing desks.”
The bigger picture for design encompasses combatting feelings of isolation and how to establish a work-life balance while working from home alongside practicalities including acoustic separation and storage of work-related paraphernalia.
For all these reasons, the Alan Davidson Foundation has chosen home/work as the theme for its inaugural prize. The judges will be looking for conceptual design ideas that respond to some of the known challenges people face while working from home. The competition also asks entrants to think carefully about how they would present their ideas to the general public.