The Weekly Stripe – 29.01.21
It has been widely observed that out of the chaos, disruption and trauma of COVID-19, there has been a wave of innovation and fresh thinking. This is strikingly evident in our city spaces: while most of us stay home and keep distance, offices, retail spaces and hotels lay vacant, and ripe for alternative uses. This week we are reflecting on how the built environment shape shifts and adapts to new uses during emergencies. We’re curious to hear of other temporary uses of vacant space which might have passed under the radar, do share your thoughts!
Soaring infection rates put huge pressure on hospitals, and many struggled to keep up with demand for beds. For Leo A Daly, a Nebraska based firm, the capacity and infrastructure of now-vacant hotels presented an obvious solution. Hotels are already equipped with check-in systems, room services and cleaning processes that make them highly adaptable to the requirements of a temporary hospital. Here, the firm set out their guidelines for hotel-to-hospital conversions.
Covid has forced many of us to adjust to home-working, and for some companies this arrangement is likely to be a long-term reality. As more office spaces lay empty, therein is a question: can vacancies in the commercial sector be leveraged for other needs? This article looks at the potential for adaptive reuse of space to address the housing crisis and offer more affordable accommodation in city centres.
This week, UK police raced to the scene of a reported ‘illegal rave’, only to find hundreds of pensioners waiting to receive their coronavirus vaccine. Incredibly, this mistake could easily be made again soon, as club owners across Europe have offered up their venues as vaccination centres.
The repurposing of space during the pandemic also impacts outside spaces too. Walthamstow council recently approved Secret Cinema’s application, to hold 3 months of events at a public sports ground. This has sparked angry complaints from residents who will not be able to use the park in other ways – a reminder that not all ‘empty’ space is necessarily vacant.
Perhaps most innovative of all is the informal repurposing of space. Without office cleaners or security to keep check on office premises, officers from the City of London police were surprised to discover a weed farm of 800 cannabis plants that had taken root in a basement in London’s financial district.