How will COVID-19 change home design? Architect shares thoughts

MANILA — An architect recently shared his thoughts on how residences can accommodate the demands of the “new normal” caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a recent forum organized by Enderun Colleges, Gelo Mañosa listed six “post-COVID world changes in residential architecture,” noting that COVID-19 has forced people to rethink the way they live.


Mañosa sees a return to traditional floor plans as opposed to the currently trendy open spaces, given the growing need for dedicated areas for work and other activities.

“The open floor plan which was pretty much celebrated and combined the living room, dining room, kitchen, and other parts of the house will change. Open planning will prove to be a hindrance for a home that shares things like office spaces, learning spaces for the kids, and entertainment spaces,” he said.

“A good example would be, ‘Dad’s home office can’t really intermingle with mom’s workout space,'” he added. “The flexibility of using partitions, movable dividers, and transformable furniture will allow for better flexibility in the design.”


Restaurants and other establishments usually ask guests to use alcohol and step on disinfecting mats before entering, and a similar concept may arise in residences.

Mañosa believes foyers and mud rooms “will become the new norm” post-COVID to ensure that visitors will not bring the virus inside the home.

“We never really needed mud rooms in the tropics as we don’t really have problems of snow and wet clothing thawing into our house, but I do foresee that such a room can be used as a disinfectant or sanitation room prior to anybody entering the house,” he said. “Alternatively, the integration of large foyers complete with cabinets, shoe racks, and lavatories prior to entering the house can be an acceptable conversion for some of our residential houses.”


Mañosa also sees functional private offices to be an integral part of the home post-COVID, with people going beyond converting dining tables into makeshift workspaces.

“Such type of space can make people more productive working from home. There are less distractions if you have proper home offices,” he said, adding that architects can also take into account how the rooms will be better planned for lighting acoustics and temperature control.


As people spend more time at home during the lockdown, many have turned to gardening to give their personal spaces a touch of nature.

Mañosa expects this trend to continue even after the pandemic with the need for atriums, balconies, patios, and even vertical gardens.

“I believe that there will be a growing trend of garden spaces. These will be necessary, no matter how small, in a home,” he said.


With more restrictions on gyms and fitness centers, people are starting to do their workouts at home, with some even ordering equipment online.

Mañosa said rooms dedicated to these activities will likely become a trend post-COVID. “Where does one exercise when your partner’s having a conference call in the office? I believe that home gyms and workout areas will be just as important as a home office,” he said.


Lastly, the pandemic has made people realized that they can survive with a lot less things, noted Mañosa.

He expects that homes post-COVID will be free from “a lot more thinks that they don’t need” as “space will be at a premium.”

“Those old golf clubs that you’ve had in your garage will definitely be repurposed or thrown out as more space would be required in the house,” he said.

Meanwhile, the son of the late National Artist for Architecture Bobby Mañosa stressed the importance of post-COVID architecture being sustainable, local, and flexible.

Saying that there is no single master architectural solution to moving forward after the pandemic, he called on all sectors to help each other.

“I believe post-pandemic architecture carries a social problem, an economic problem, and a moral problem. You can’t find a solution without the help of all the other friends in the industry, and that’s from government to private sector to the academe down the line,” he said.