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The Views From Here
How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect design? For some highly educated guesses, Azure consulted a who’s who of architects and designers, their specialties wide-ranging. Herewith are their prognostications on the offices, schools, airports and civic spaces of tomorrow. (Spoiler alert: You may no longer need that passport holder. And how about theatres on rooftops?)
Carlo Ratti Believes the Physical Workspace Will Endure
Adam Tihany Creates an Easy Hospitality Hack
How Good Design Can Help Schools Safely Re-Open
The New Normal Airport Experience, According to Luis Vidal
Winnipeg’s 5468796 Imagines a Nimble Urbanism
Trust City, Smart City, Forest City
Blouin Orzes on the Resilience of the North
The Views From Here

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has greatly altered the way we work. Forced into lockdowns all around the world, many of us have abandoned our traditional offices, instead connecting with people through digital services such as Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. If such patterns were to persist, the consequences for cities could be major. Certainly, a lot of real estate would be freed up — something that might be bad news for developers, but not so bad for citizens, as large metropolises could become more affordable for the young and less wealthy. More importantly, new living patterns might redefine the prevailing modes of human habitation. As it was during the mid–20th century, suburbia might again become a preferred urban form — with...

“Thinking about the reopening of restaurants right now can be stressful, but not thinking about it can be disastrous,” says globetrotting interior designer Adam Tihany, renowned for his high-end hospitality work. Counting celebrity chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller among his clients, Tihany is well-placed to consider the post-COVID-19 future of restaurants, especially the variety of pricey eateries that diners flock to as much for the ambience as for the food.

Among his solutions: semi-custom privacy barriers that redefine the experience of fine dining by emphasizing being present over being seen, ensuring both intimacy and safety in the process. “The screens are designed with wellness and comfort in mind,” says Alessia...

Places of learning are by nature interactive, typically involving densely packed classrooms, crowded hallways and communal areas for eating, exercise and assembly. So how do schools adapt to a threat that discourages such activity? “To promote a higher level of health safety, socializing will have to change,” says Paul Sapounzi, managing partner at +VG Architects, a 60-person Canadian firm with a specialty in designing educational facilities.

According to Sapounzi, “schools will become more fluid places so that students have choices for learning outside as well as inside the classroom. They need to be able to learn in different parts of the building. The entire school becomes the classroom.”

Practically speaking, such a template...

Spanish architect Luis Vidal has worked on more than 30 airport designs worldwide, including the award-winning Zaragoza Airport in northeastern Spain and the beloved Queen’s Terminal at London Heathrow. His floor plans are spacious and open-ended, his interiors bathed in natural light. Few people alive have thought so carefully about the experience of being in an airport. Thanks to COVID-19, that experience is likely to change dramatically, as the architect, who is currently working on Pittsburgh International’s new terminal, tells Azure. In Vidal’s view, the post-pandemic airport will be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Simon Lewsen: It seems clear that, if airports are to become safer from an epidemiological standpoint, we will...

Winnipeggers Johanna Hurme, Colin Neufeld and Sasa Radulovic, partners in 5468796 Architecture, are among the most respected urbanists in Canada. Their creations range from idiosyncratic residential complexes (including 62M, the discus-shaped building on stilts shown above) to beloved community events (see Table for 1200, one of the world’s largest outdoor dinner parties). Their design philosophy centres on cosmopolitanism, participation and togetherness — themes that, at least on the surface, seem at odds with the conventions of social distancing. But perhaps, as they tell Simon Lewsen, this doesn’t have to be true.

Simon Lewsen: Let’s start by articulating the case for pessimism. How might COVID-19 make our cities worse?

On the Importance of Building Trust – Coronavirus is making people more aware of their built environment, so this is an opportunity for architects and designers to use design to engage on an emotional, spiritual and cultural level. Related to this is the importance of designing for trust. Many people are afraid to re-enter the public realm right now — that realm is under threat. Consequently, design needs to be used to help build trust between all parties concerned — between restaurant owners and patrons, park authorities and visitors, hospitals and patients. We need to keep people safe, but we also need to reassure people that experts are implementing changes to keep them safe. By Regina Yang

Regina Yang is a senior director at

The advantage of the Northern regions in this period of COVID-19 comes from the fact that they’re isolated. There are no roads or railways that link Nunavik (where we’ve done a lot of work) to southern Quebec (where we’re based). That makes the Inuit communities that live in the North very sensitive to the precariousness that accompanies their isolation, but also greatly resilient.

For instance, the Katittavik Cultural Centre we designed in the northern village of Kuujjuarapik is currently closed and 2020 programming has been cancelled. The village authorities we spoke to recently, however, tell us that they are thinking of new ways to use this multi-functional room, with its variable geometry and retractable seating system, to...