At Home with Children: Liveable Space for the COVID-19 challenge

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Architecture Planning and Landscape

Abstract

This study focuses on the uneven psychological and social impact of the pandemic on children, young people and their families through the hidden-in-plain-sight factor of physical domestic space. Many studies challenge the idea of home as a 'haven', arguing that domestic space is also a place of family conflict and negotiation. This challenge has been exacerbated by COVID-19. As a pattern of epidemic ebb and flow becomes a potential long-term reality, increased density of occupation over time and disrupted home-life norms will see the 'liveability' of dwellings for children and their families stretched beyond original capacities, affecting mental health, productivity and well-being.

Informed by a nationwide survey and experiential accounts of child and adult family members, this research explores inter-relationships between social experience, psychological well-being and everyday domestic space. With a focus on the liveability of dwellings set against complex home/school/work conditions, the study also captures spatial forms of resilience that have emerged in response to COVID-19, to better support families' social and psychological well-being. These inventive responses will be synthesised through a co-design process, leading to an evidence-based 'Home-Hack Toolkit' for widespread dissemination directly to families. The broader findings will inform urgent policy-making that better supports those at risk of the pandemic's psychological and social impacts, by identifying the domestic settings and socio-spatial scenarios that present the greatest challenges to families. For longer-term structural impact, the data will also permit testing of UK domestic space standards, creating a crucial resource to inform liveable dwellings for a contemporary 'pandemic-ready' context.

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