Nestled on the tip of the Great Dividing Range, Toowoomba is placed far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the capital cities to be peaceful, enmeshed in our own local eco-system. It can seem strange for us to therefore reflect on how we can be impacted by a global event like the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this virus has had unexpected and far-reaching impact within our industry, effecting both our building processes and design.
Supplies shortages across the region have been well documented. With the United States purchasing all imported building supplies at a premium, this sharply increased the cost of bringing imported products to Australian shores. As the Australian market produces only about 60% of our building supplies, this import shortage is causing delays across all building industries. Here in Toowoomba, we are fortunate to have local suppliers who have remained consistently passionate about supporting Australian designers and stocking quality Australian made items. Despite their knowledge and skill, they too have been forced to ration supplies to ensure equity across trades.
What has been less obvious, is the impact across design. When many of us were forced to work from home with kids in tow, it became quickly obvious that our homes are not designed as multi-function work spaces! Many families in this situation quickly moved their work spaces from the kitchen table to spare bedrooms, or outside on the deck (or even a closet!) in an effort to find an uninterrupted work space for the stream of endless zoom meetings. Across Australia, many urban and city dwellers are now being asked to consider working from home semi-regularly and this has resulted in a change in perspective in how we use our spaces at home. The need to be able to close the laptop, mentally “clock-off” and walk away to enjoy your home-space, becomes increasingly difficult when your home office remains set up in a common use space. The previous trend towards open plan living spaces is now beginning to be less favoured, with a greater emphasis on a home office space – with a good solid door! How did your home stack-up against the need for home-schooling or working from home?
2020 has changed the face of the Australian Home, with an emphasis on open plan for family gatherings, and quiet places of solitude set aside as work spaces. It has made us rethink our use of space and consider the need for communal shared spaces to relax and enjoy time together, while separating work from home life. The 2020 factor – it has changed more than we realised.