Image of Stuart Penklis

Stuart Penklis

Head of Residential

Stuart Penklis was appointed Head of Residential in April 2017.

How people are using their homes in new ways

18th May 2020

With the whole world as we know it turned upside down, we've been granted permission to reimagine the very concept of 'home'.

 

Living rooms being used as offices. Bedrooms converted to temporary classrooms. Kitchens as communal hubs. Our homes are working harder than ever to meet our (often competing) COVID-19 needs, which begs the question: what will the 'home of the future' look like? How will it feel and what functions will it perform? With the whole world as we know it turned upside down, we've been granted permission to reimagine the very concept of 'home'... It's an exciting proposition and one we're grabbing with both hands here at Mirvac.

Having had to adapt to working remotely en masse these last couple of months, it's interesting to look to our staff and customers to understand their recent experiences of home, particularly as we begin considering what that means for housing design moving forward.

Our customers and existing residents are telling us they value flexible and multi-functional spaces to accommodate their new, mixed needs. They are redefining how they use their homes and the rooms within them. Suddenly, our homes have become much more than somewhere to retire to at the end of a long day or enjoy on weekends for social and recreational purposes. They have become workplaces, schools and creches. This feedback tells us, loud and clear, that our homes won't be reverting to their strictly traditional uses anytime soon. Any future adjustments to housing design will be informed by the types of behavioural changes we're already seeing, such as:

  • Multi-purpose zones. We've all experienced awkward or interrupted videoconferencing and as a result, we'll be looking closely at how spaces can seamlessly switch from being designated (and private) work or study zones, when required, back to more family-friendly or multi-purpose rooms. Flexibility will be essential to the home of the future.
  • The return of the chef's kitchen. Kitchen design is constantly changing and with people rediscovering their love of - or at least, interest in - cooking at home, we're expecting to see more demand for entertainer-style kitchens with plenty of bench space for food preparation.
  • Access to outdoor space. We're using our backyards, patios and balconies as breakout zones, coffee spots and school playgrounds. Our outdoor spaces are more important than ever.
  • Spaces for families to come together. With family members banished to all corners of the house for work and study throughout the day, our customers are enjoying coming back together in communal spaces.
  • Private home offices. Private spaces for uninterrupted focused work are high on our customers' wish list! Our kids are doing a great job studying in their bedrooms, but designated, clearly separated and quiet areas for focussed study are the preference.
  • Room for exercise and hobbies. In lockdown, many of us have rediscovered hidden talents and are getting in touch with our creative sides. Homes in the future will have to, quite literally, make room for new hobbies.

In responding to these emerging trends, we're beginning to explore a range of interventions and solutions that might ultimately redefine our homes and broader living environments. Necessity as they say is the mother of all invention and with social distancing and hygiene measures likely to remain a high priority, permanently, we're looking at new ways to meet changing expectations.

"People have turned their attention to online research during lockdown. And while we don't expect this behaviour to necessarily translate to immediate buyer activity, we do see it as a sign of people rethinking how they want to live."

I look forward to keeping you posted as these and other ideas take further shape. Interestingly, we have noticed a surge in website traffic to our projects, as people have turned their attention to online research during lockdown. And while we don't expect this behaviour to necessarily translate to immediate buyer activity, we do see it as a sign of people rethinking how they want to live. The challenge for our team now is to marry the fundamentals of great design with the many adjustments, large and small, needed to not only reimagine - but redefine - what 'home' can and should be.