NW REporter

Design firm touts “5 Ps” to address functionality, livability in pandemic era

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a national design firm developed a white paper centered on “Five Ps” that impact home design and the “work from home” era.

On target designs that inspire positive feelings and moods, foster activity, and even motivate a sale, begin with a robust understanding of the target market. “Long before we start thinking of color, pattern, and ornament, we have to start with something more basic: What should the space be? How should it work? What are the needs of the people using it?’ wrote the founder of Mary Cook Associates.

Cook believes the 5Ps encapsulate the key post-pandemic changes being addressed in functionality and livability. The way people buy goods, increased pet ownership, technology advances, redefined recreational time, and how we create areas for downtown and recharging, according to Cook.

The five shifts prompted by the pandemic lockdown are delineated as:

  1. Packages. Increases in delivery-based consumerism has a direct impact on the design of common spaces in several residential settings, ranging from multi-family to student housing and senior living communities. No one dreamed that one of the largest logistical challenges for housing developments would be how to handle all those deliveries from Amazon and other retailers. “Now, delivery processing is as vital as plumbing,” wrote Cook.
  2. Pets. With an estimated 90.5 million households (approximately 70% of homes) now owning a pet, both interior and exterior spaces must include pet-friendly areas. These might include dog runs, pet washing areas, feeding and sleeping stations, and pet-friendly porches and patios with non-permeable surfaces.
  3. Plug-ins. “Working from home, even in a hybrid situation, has set new technology standards for attracting residents.” Pocket rooms and spaces that were adapted during the pandemic will continue to support work from home situations. Natural and adjustable lighting, an operable window, robust wi-fi connections, ample plug-ins, collaborative spaces, and aesthetically appropriate furnishings are important for the evolving work-from-home cohort.
  4. Play. “Coping with challenges of the pandemic amplified just about everyone’s need for play,” the designers stated, citing data indicating two-thirds (66%) of U.S. adults are concerned the pandemic is interfering with healthy habits. Keying into how different age groups most enjoy recreational time will drive design. Among popular outdoor amenities the white paper lists for multi-family developments are resort-style pools, roof decks, fire pits, grilling stations and bar areas, along with movie lawns, sports courts and spaces for relaxation, reading and meditation.
  5. Personal space/Privacy. Working remotely, virtual schooling, more family members in the home at the same time, and changing quarantining requirements significantly impacted all inhabitants, regardless of age. Losing personal space and privacy can lead to “noticeable mental health challenges,” according to psychology experts. Cook recommends deliberately designing spaces that provide a transition from “a frenetic, pressurized workday to a rejuvenating, restorative after-work environment” that facilities relaxation.

Designers at the firm say these “Ps” recharacterized functionality and are significantly impacting the design of indoor/outdoor common spaces as well as fostering creative twists that enhance livability.

The “Living It Up” white paper covering the five Ps is part of an eight-part series from MCA.

Mary Cook Associates is based in Chicago whose clients include real estate developers and owners in 36 states.