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Improving the Air We Breathe in our Spaces

Previous pandemics have all been critical historical events that have changed how cities are built worldwide.

Public parks and green spaces have been added as well as new building standards to keep people from overcrowding. These changes have also made it easier for people to breathe and get enough light and ventilation in their homes.

Architects, landscape architects, planners, urban designers, and policymakers have been imagining how our cities might look in the future. Here at JCVA, we're weighing in too.

In our homes: isolation areas

You may not have given much thought to indoor air quality before 2020, but the pandemic has highlighted the importance of keeping all areas of your home clean and safe, including the air.

Headaches, irritation of the ears, nose, throat, and dizziness are minor side effects of poor indoor air quality. However, more serious consequences include cancer and respiratory diseases if we continuously take the importance of air quality for granted.

One way to improve the air quality in your home is to use a good air purifier. There are multiple air purifiers available in the market today that may suit your budget. However, experts recommend a three-pronged approach: filter the air, introduce fresh air, and manage humidity.

For commercial establishments: good ventilation

Another big concern is how Covid-19 could spread through heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), primarily used in commercial buildings and apartments.

Health experts advise making changes to existing HVAC systems and how to use supplementary methods, such as increasing fresh air volume and decreasing recycled air consumption by using air cleaning equipment with HEPA filters or UV light.

Our long-term solution would involve natural ventilation being used whenever practical, and displacement ventilation (rather than traditional recirculation) should be used where HVAC systems are utilized.

For schools and offices, open-plan environments is a problem because of infection transmission indoors

This can be solved by a hybrid model for learning and working and would lead to the reintroduction of smaller cubicle workspaces in office buildings and a shift away from open-plan learning environments to return to smaller, cellular classrooms in schools in the future.

The community: open spaces

Another place where virus transmission occurs is mainly found in restaurants and cafes. Changes to local bylaws to allow al fresco dining is a short-term solution, but in the future, we envision changes to the street design (such as narrowing existing carriageways or introducing more pedestrian-only streets, widening footpaths, and adding verandahs) This could be made to allow more widespread outdoor dining.

Overall, the necessity to limit personal movements and prevent the virus from spreading will likely lead to a more cellular approach to home and neighborhood architecture, focusing on establishing self-sustaining communities.

Making our spaces and homes safe again is not a lateral journey for every community affected. But bringing safety back to our lives requires changes that not only could afford us short-term methods but hopefully opt to utilize self-sufficiency at a neighborhood level.

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