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During these unprecedented times, the Covid-19 pandemic is rapidly changing the way spaces - inside and out - are designed and adapted both in the long-term and short-term.

Purcell have launched a new design programme 'Stay Home: Stay Creative' where our architects across our studios have created a series of imaginative design exercises that support or reflect upon our 'new normal’. Here, the team explore two themes; talking through windows, and home improvement.

Matthew Orme: The Isolation Whispering Gallery

The Isolation Whispering Gallery is an architectural intervention as a response to the absent encounters of the everyday.

Designed around a 3 x 3 square and circular grid, the Whispering Gallery seeks to replicate the random social encounters with people in the community, from strangers in the corner shop to fellow commuters on the train, which is missing due to social distancing.

It allows for two people to come together by whispering into the concrete arch and letting the acoustics travel to the person sitting at the opposite side of the screen, which gives a sense of anonymity.

Chris Cotton: Arctic Landscape

The coronavirus event has been the first moment across the globe when the human fraternity has collectively stopped and been given time to reflect on who we and how we connect to our home, the blue planet.

Arctic Landscape explores ideas of the 'stresses' our society imposes on our climate and environment, and it optimistically considers a new paradigm between people and planet.

The making of the painting required detachment from the conventional norms of structured control, instead of becoming open to the visceral physics of our natural order.

It is about layered colour, isolated fragments of pigment, movement and flow, fractured soft-edged textures and heat.

The painting can be simultaneously viewed as a ground plan, an elevation, or reflected ‘sky’ plan.

Nick Chantarasak: The Hub-lic Pouse

This is an unprecedented situation in the world’s history – we have never been more connected as a global society, yet never felt so isolated. Adhering to the vital social distancing guidelines, this intervention aims to encourage interaction in a time of no physical contact.

The arrangement separate booths creates a series of spaces where social interaction can take place through mirrors and portals (windows). At any one booth, someone can see and speak to their friends and family, whilst in the other three booths, either directly or by reflection. They will appear in a row, as if speaking across a table. The booths are designed so that each one has an equal view to the others through a central space that allows passage of sight and sound only.

The idea is this could be an installation in a prominent public place, such as a town square, library or place of worship. A temporary new ‘hub’ for the community where we can engage with each other again, safely.

Oliver Beddard: Daydreaming

When lockdown hit, we each faced the choice of establishing our home offices for the foreseeable future. I chose the kitchen, an extremely bright mezzanine space lit by skylights on two sides.

As days have turned into weeks and now months I've spent an increasing amount of time looking out of the skylights opposite my makeshift workstation. Void of tangible features, the view is that of the ever-changing sky, leading me to long for stepping out of this world of control and repetition and reach that which is most free.

My piece seeks to explore the childish sense of wonder and excitement found within all when looking out at the sky. For those of us without gardens or outdoor space, could we be looking up at the space above to satisfy that everlasting curiosity?

Caroline Barnard: As Found

AS FOUND is a study of tables and how they are left. A tabletop is a private and often intimate domain whilst surrounded by people until it is left and becomes part of the public realm.

The study became a social commentary and an analysis of the user’s character. The isolation of the surface of the artefacts and their context and the repetition causes the viewer to question the pieces in a more critical way than if they were in their normal setting.

Andrew Thomson: The Cloud Haus

The Cloud Haus is a physical manifestation of a digital concept. Exploring a modern interpretation of Le Corbusier’s ‘living machine,’ which saw homes stacked in vertical tower blocks that included facilities such as gyms, restaurants and running tracks.

This multi-functional residential concept draws parallels to homes of today, that have come to serve so many other purposes during a period of social distancing and self-isolation. This change has been made possible thanks to the digital era we live in. These images are dystopic visualisations of what can be provided to us through our digital landscape and the invisible towers that they create.

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