2025 After the Coronavirus

In a bid to encourage discussion about how the coronavirus pandemic is set to shape the built environment, earlier this year the RIBA launched the international design competition Rethink: 2025. We look at some of the shortlisted designs by architects and students that are reimagining how architecture could look in half a decade

Community Retrofit

Designed by: Farrells

The pandemic has caused many to reduce our travel and work at home, while getting goods delivered rather than going out to shop for them, and it is this combined set of changes that Community Retrofit tackles. It proposes the transformation of commuter hubs and city centre tourist destinations as local hubs, with office space and departments stores reimagined to house co-working spaces, urban farms, leisure facilities, schools, homes, cafes and cafes, all within easy reach of one another.

Greater London Agriculture

Designed by: Tim Rodber and Dominic Walker

Described by the RIBA as the “most ambitious proposition in terms of scale”, and the ultimate winner, this project reimagines agriculture in the UK capital by interweaving it into the city, with small-scale areas of food production being joined over time by biodiverse corridors. This would see existing green spaces transformed into food production hubs that would offer extremely fresh produce to their surrounding areas. Rodber and Walker have made the proposals highly diverse, with everything from community orchards to seaweed farms included in the mix. The proposal is designed not only to help reduce the threat of future pandemics, but improve urban biodiversity.

Post Pandemic Exchange

Designed by: Elle Thompson, University of Nottingham

Focusing on the idea that the pandemic has prompted the change of use of several building types, Post Pandemic Exchanges transforms now empty buildings and spaces. City centres are reimagined with garden streets, while high streets are transformed to host markets, rooftop exercise spaces and food businesses. Meanwhile, suburbia is given prefabricated extensions to host home offices, while front gardens seep out onto the streets beyond.

House Farm – Peru

Designed by: Kenyi Kevin and Sulca Quichca, Universidad Nacional de Ingenieri

Designed to be built in the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo in Lima, Peru, this design proposes a new form of space that sits between the private and the public. Taking the form of a timber extension, it is designed to house hydroponic growing space for fruit and vegetables. The idea is that the addition would not only reduce crowds in markets that help spread disease in pandemics, but would also combat the food security issues that Covid-19 created.

Window Living

Designed by: Alice Vivoda, Patricia Schleeh, Eva Setz Kengen and Mark Kengen, The University of Edinburgh

Many of those that struggled the most in lockdown are the millions without access to a garden or other outside space, an issue that Window Living seeks to address. Focusing around retrofitting external balconies to flats, the project proposes a structure to replace existing windows that swings open to either form a balcony or a half bay that functions as a bench. The designers also see the installation providing a virtual window on rainy days, with a built-in HD screen that enables people to videoconference in a manner that doesn’t require them to be hunched behind a desk.

Get Everyone In

Designed by: Benjamin Holland, Olivia Dolan, Katie Williams

Tackling the problem of surplus office space that is expected to be created by the rise in home working, Get Everyone In transforms empty office towers into housing for the homeless. Deep-plan office floors are refitted to become hostel-style bedrooms on tower blocks’ upper levels, while nature is introduced via gardens in the mid-levels below. On the ground floor, communal health facilities are located to provide care.