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Pandemic and architecture

For all the inhabitants of the globe this “new normal” requires a process of adaptation and search for an answer in history, since this is not the first time that the world has been subjected to a pandemic and its consequences. All this process of adaptation and search for answers takes place in all areas of human knowledge, and architecture and construction do not escape this reflection. That is why the ARKIHAUS team has been documenting the antecedents in the history of collective situations such as the current one, in order to enrich our work.

“The history of architecture is the history of infectious diseases. They cannot be separated”.

‘X-Ray Architecture’ – Beatriz Colomina

Who speaks like this is Beatriz Colomina, architect and one of the most important theorists in the relationship between architecture and health. “Cities have always responded to disease. They are made up of layers and layers of responses to epidemics and threats of disease of all kinds.”

Precisely, in his book ‘X-Ray Architecture’, Colomina investigates the close relationship between the tuberculosis epidemics of the 19th and 20th centuries and the formation of the modern style at the hands of Le Corbusier, Neutra, Gropius or Aalto.

And is that, for decades, there was no effective remedy against the bacteria. And the only things that seemed to work were the sun, cleanliness, and rest.

That is why all the great architects and designers of the time set out to design hospitals with bigger windows, sanatoriums with huge terraces, raised houses to escape germs and aerodynamic furniture where dust could not hide. And so modern architecture was born, the great example of how epidemics have always shaped the shape of our cities.

That is why modern architecture already has genetically in its DNA the responses to a situation like the current one: Open spaces, wide ceilings, lots of ventilation, and spaces integrated with the environment, are solutions for a human life with more illuminated spaces, airy and relaxing. Answers that in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st have been frequently forgotten due to the increase in the cost per square meter in large cities and the need to produce economically “profitable” spaces, even at the expense of the health of the inhabitant.

So let’s continue learning from what affects us collectively, let’s adapt to the changes that the situation imposes on us and above all, let’s always keep dreaming about improving our quality of life … and making it happen.