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

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

Rosie Parnell and Alkistis Pitsikali, APL

With a focus on the liveability of dwellings set against complex home/school/work conditions, the ‘At Home with Children’ study captures spatial forms of resilience that have emerged in response to COVID-19, to better support families’ social and psychological well-being.

The idea of a ‘new normal’ that includes schooling and working from home demands a re-think of domestic space design. The At Home with Children study aims to understand what constitutes ‘liveable’ domestic space for families with children under pandemic conditions; it explores what lessons there are to be learned from our lockdown experiences and how they can inform the ways we re-imagine and use our homes.  As part of this exploration, the study examines the role of domestic space in alleviating and/or exacerbating the psychological and social impacts of COVID-19 on children and young people, as experienced by families. 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. Throughout the study, different expressions of spatial resilience will be documented, including the ways the family home is re-imagined, used and altered in order to allow all family members and activities to co-exist.

In the short to medium term, the project will share the ideas, tactics and spatial changes that families have found helpful at home, so that others might be able to benefit from these ideas. The proposed 'Home Hacks', alongside the diverse ideas generated through the At Home with Children social media community, will be synthesised through a co-design process to form the basis of a 'Home Hack Liveability Toolkit' on the project website for widespread dissemination directly to families. These ideas have the potential to help alleviate the psychological and social impacts of enforced proximities, which can sometimes conflict in the home.

The study is also intended to have a long-term benefit, resulting in policy recommendations for housing design and standards that will be relevant across both England and Scotland. 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.

Project website:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences