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Five Ways to Benefit Residential High-Rise Residents in a Post-Pandemic World

How can high-rise residential developments adapt to accommodate the shifting needs of residents in dense urban areas in the wake of physical distancing and sheltering-in-place?



May 22, 2020

The quarantine has undoubtedly changed the way many people live, from those in rural single-family homes, to those residing in the compact, high-rise developments that so many urban dwellers find themselves living in. This change encourages a number of questions: What impact has the pandemic had on high-rise building dwellers? What have we learned from the experience? What changes can we implement that would benefit residents should a pandemic like this occur in the future?

Touchless-environment motion sensors, key fob activated automatic doors, and barrier-free access buttons at common-area entrances present a few solutions for the post-pandemic future inside urban high-rise residences. These systems will help to alleviate concerns around high-touch areas, including shared amenities and entrance doors. To provide safe and easy-to-live-in spaces, the following might also be considered:

  1. Elevator access­ – Elevators could be programmed to provide direct-to-floor destination capabilities that don’t stop to pick up additional passengers at unexpected floors. Alternatively, key fob access elevators could bring you directly to your floor, which would reduce the need to physically press a button every time you enter the elevator.
  2. Working from home – Amenity areas could be designed flexibly to support co-working. Shared spaces should also be designed to accommodate adequate physical distancing and should be equipped with the capability to book a workspace in advance.
  3. Staying active – A booking system could be implemented to allow yoga rooms and shared fitness facilities to remain open when external facilities are closed. A strict and visible cleaning protocol between uses would be critical in this case.
  4. Deliveries – Existing receiving and storage facilities could be updated to avoid queues and accommodate more efficient parcel pick up. Considerations could include the addition of refrigerated storage, access to a drop-off area that does not require delivery personnel to walk through amenity areas, and additional parcel storage space in general.
  5. Residents banding together – Apps that allow volunteers to sign up and provide aid to neighbours who are unable to run errands alone could be utilized. In addition to helping those in need, a shared sense of community would benefit all residents.

As residents continue to adapt to ever-changing pandemic protocols, the focus for the future will be the flexibility of residential buildings to accommodate these changes. With the slow reopening of public spaces, and the eventual return of rush-hour elevator congestion, it’s prudent to consider how apartment and condominium dwellers, and the spaces they call home, will rise to the evolving challenge.

Jennifer Lem has highly developed conceptual skills, planning abilities, and a keen eye for finishes and details, as evidenced by her work on the Edition Hotels in Miami and Waikiki, the New World Hotel in Guangzhou, and the St. Regis Hotel in Mexico City. Her ability to document and detail the interior environment is integral to her role in developing the firm’s hospitality and residential interiors practice, and she is currently working on Minto’s Yorkville Park, Museum House, Harmony Village and the Nitesh Estates, among other projects.

Headshot of Jennifer Lem

Written by Jennifer Lem

Associate Director | Practice Lead, Interior Design
Toronto, ON
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