UBC Graduate Research

5 Points of COVID Architecture Zhong, Xin


Pursuing hygiene is a survival instinct of all living creatures, including human beings. As human civilization developed, people learned to make tools, construct shelters, preserve food, treat diseases… The hygienic rules are no longer merely to keep us alive. From the most fundamental hygienic rules, there came health, comfort, privacy, and taboos, There isn’t anything absolutely dirty, only matters that are out of place. To people living in different cultural and geographic backgrounds, and different time period throughout human history, the definitions of “out of place’, cleanliness and hygiene can be drastically different. These different hygienic rules shape the built environments into different forms. European cities built before the discovery of microorganisms were very different from those built after the discovery. Beatriz Colomina argued that 20th-century European modernism was shaped by tuberculosis. The cure for this disease, fresh air and sunlight therapy, and the diagnostic technique, X-ray, gave the architecture large windows, round corners, transparency and smooth materials. If COVID, a disease so different from tuberculosis, becomes the driving force, how should the guiding principles of architecture change accordingly? I’ve listed 5 points of COVID architecture: porosity, bubble, distancing, anteroom, and cross-species companionship. This project explores architectural visions of an imaginary city built to fulfill these 5 points.

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