Story seven –
Finding itself thrust into the most extraordinary of social experiments, the Museum of Home has set up a Stay Home collecting project. It argues that the ‘home has never been more important’. It is vital, therefore, that we bear witness to the way we have – as individuals and groups – adapted to the great lockdown. The internet teeming with ideas and examples of exactly what this means, I am reminded of a favourite line in a favourite book, the beautifully democratic A Pattern Language: ‘The most wonderful places of the world are made not by architects but by people.’
Unfortunately, as many have observed, while we are indeed all in this together, we are not all equally in it together. Many of us live on top of each other, in overcrowded flats, and lack access to the world beyond, whether via the internet or gardens, balconies and unrestricted public spaces. Income has spiralled. Domestic violence is on the rise. Home schooling’s all but impossible. In short, the design and size of our homes dictates to a large degree how wonderful a place we can make of houses and flats that lack space, rooms, ventilation, light, views and access to the great (private) outdoors. Before even beginning, we are designed out of the opportunity to design our way through lockdown. We are not A Pattern Language’s citizen architects, however much we would like to be.
All of which makes the Museum of Home’s project much more than simply a record of how we lived during lockdown. It must be our voice. It needs to call out the urban planners of tomorrow. It must speak to the disparity of class, race, gender and age. Its message: we need to design our homes to be lived in properly, and not just shelters from the night.
Words by Adam Scott and Dave Waddell
Illustration Jessica Watson
Photography Museum of the Home
The historian Peter Hennessy recently observed that future historians will divide post-divide society into BC and AC – Before COVID and After COVID. It is in exactly this spirit that AfterCOVID seeks to celebrate how the world’s largest shared experience has given us the most extraordinary stories of what it means to live beautifully. Together, they are the clues to creating the future we all hope for.
FreeState is planning for a post-COVID future. Share your story with us – really, we’d love to talk. In the meantime, stay well.