Reviews | A house built for the next pandemic

The double fridge The Covid house concept reflected the idea that middle-class American families should stockpile food and supplies. Th...


The Covid house concept reflected the idea that middle-class American families should stockpile food and supplies. The house has two modern full size refrigerators, one in the kitchen and one just off the kitchen, in the utility room. The second refrigerators are not uncommon in American homes, but they were not seen as a middle class consumer good. They were either associated with the working class and poor rural communities, for bulk buying and freezing, or with the high-end luxury consumption patterns of people who had multiple refrigerators to entertain themselves and run their households, as well. than to store food for housekeepers and nannies.

The concept of home is firmly owned by the middle class, as evidenced by the income level of survey respondents. The idea of ​​having two full-size refrigerators would, according to the study, be accommodation for parents who say they need more space in the refrigerator in order, among other reasons, to be able to store food. In an area like North Carolina, where the Covid concept house is being built, storing goods in two refrigerators seems overkill – until we consider where this new house construction is taking place. Like many communities with a master plan, it is redeveloping a peri-urban area where infrastructure does not keep up with the influx of new residents.

The location – described by the developers as “near (but not too close)” to major cities like Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham – was important to the study. Residents of these exurban communities have to walk for miles to the nearest grocery store, which is more akin to how rural people have to travel to “town” for goods than to live in town or city. in the suburbs. If you take 30 minutes to drive to the grocery store, you may be stocking up, not only in response to Covid, but in response to transportation costs and the time and effort it takes to get to grocery stores by car. as subdivisions. surpass the ability of the retail industry to meet consumer demand.

The Covid concept home has a hidden room upstairs in the master bedroom which has obviously been designed to be a “mum’s room”, where mothers can hide from their spouses and children. It has a bookcase, a false bookcase door, an opening – again, accessible only through the master bedroom. It is decorated with floor cushions, reminiscent of Californian cult chic. It sounds like the kind of space where you expect to sing and perform vibrations that will bring them closer to the ultimate energy source. Or whatever.

This room is the design element that most divides those with whom I have shared the concept of a house. Women with young children, in particular, such as a woman I visited the house with, said a version of: “I could absolutely use a room like this, because what Covid showed me, it is that being together with my family is not good for my mental health and well-being. And I can’t escape the house. So I need escapes inside the house. But some men and women were dismayed at the concept of the play, describing it as pimping. As one woman told me, getting away from her children cannot solve the injustice and unsustainability of modern motherhood. It cannot rebalance a disproportionate division of labor. She called it akin to building a bubble bath to solve the structural social problem of work and gender expectations.

“Calgon, take me …” Remember those ads from the 70s and 80s? As I recently told an audience, a bubble bath is not going to fix what’s wrong with you. Because a lot of our burnout and boredom is unrelated to fatigue. This is not to be taken care of. Child care, public transportation, senior care and health care would do more for our collective well-being than a bubble bath. Much like a not-so-secret secret room – in a middle-class home designed for a woman to be constantly accessible and permanently manage the liminal space between her multiple social roles, from the “control center” of her oversized, middle-class home in a planned exurban community that requires her to drive 20-30 minutes for all her needed services – can in no way be considered personal care.

The Covid concept house demonstrates both the exuberant quality of American consumption – that we can buy our way out of everything – and its limitations as a solution. Designing for problems that may seem simple in a survey can look really cool and can provide you with some really cool functionality. Look, I thought the laundry room was impressive, and I never imagined myself being in awe of a laundry room. But the problems posed by Covid cannot really be solved at the household level. These are structural and collective problems: politically and culturally, economically and spiritually. A conceptual home for our post-Covid reality probably needs to look more like dense, accessible and affordable housing so that women can break away from the control center of their home and instead enjoy a simple cup of coffee in the kitchen. .

The Covid conceptual house is 2,600 square feet, was built in 60 days and has no price yet, but is expected to be listed at some point next year. It has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. You can see pictures and take a virtual tour in the comfort of your own home.

Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) is Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the author of “Thick: And Other Essays” and a 2020 MacArthur Fellow.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Reviews | A house built for the next pandemic
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