Writer Andrew P Street wants to build the social distancing house of the future!
March 17th, 2020
One day, maybe quite soon, we can all go into stasis and wake up once everything is fine, like in the first bit of Alien. In the meantime, we need to stop ourselves from losing our minds while trapped inside pacing along dimly-lit corridors, like in the rest of Alien.
For many of us the news that we’re expected to self-isolate in our homes has been accompanied by the realisation that our homes are not places we want to spend goddamn weeks on end within.
That’s because Australia is a country which tempts you out into its glorious wide open spaces at every opportunity, from the bush to the beach to the beer garden, and most of us treat our homes like a crash pad where our stuff is strewn rather than, say, an isolation ward where we might have to cocoon ourselves until the Spring.
And due to our until-now-enviable lifestyle, few Australian houses are designed with 24-7 in-habitation in mind. So, it got us thinking: what would a perfect isolation pad look like, if we could design it from scratch? If nothing else, once this is all over there’s probably a market in building hunker bunkers for the wealthy and paranoid – if we’re still using money and not bartering with rolls of hoarded three ply.
For starters, our dream compound would feature…
And that’s for two reasons. One, getting a sense of the outside world is very important to stave off those feelings of being trapped like a caged animal in your personal hellscape, since you can track the passage of time and feel the rhythms of the day as you attempt to carry out something vaguely resembling a normal life.
And the other reason, beautifully illustrated in Parasite, is that access to natural light is correlated with wealth and that way we can be rich enough to afford a better class of problem.
After all, who wants to have the terrifying threats facing those with parlous casual employment or living a precarious self-employed life who are seeing their income evaporate as the planet moves into a global recession, when you can be wealthed-up enough to merely sigh about how Amazon’s same-day delivery could stand to be a bit more same-day?
Speaking of which…
Not just your impulse purchases but, if things get worse, deliveries of food and medicine by people with whom you don’t need to directly interact.
Isolating ourselves includes limiting contact with everyone, including people bringing stuff so we can keep living, and having somewhere in our dream-pad where things can be safely dropped off by helpful elves would be very beneficial. There’s more to say about this in relation to the next thing, which is…
Hoarding has become a national sport while all the actual national sports are being cancelled. as people attempt to win all of the toilet paper in their suburb.
And sure, it’s worth having some real talk here: most Australian food is made in Australia, the supply chains are currently running smoothly, our primary producers are actually recovering shockingly well at the moment as the drought has broken in several key areas (though by no means all of them) and if everyone was a bit more patient there probably wouldn’t be empty supermarket shelves taunting us at every turn.
However, for people who are ill, or who have compromised immune systems, or don’t have private cars and don’t want to run the gauntlet of public transport, popping out every day or so to see if rice is back at the local Woolies isn’t practical. And although supermarket deliveries are currently subject to long wait times and abrupt cancellations in a lot of areas, they’re the only real option for a lot of people in real need.
So, having a place to have them delivered safely (see point 2) and having somewhere to put them once they’ve been dragged indoors would be an important part of any fantasy house. And that means a decent designated supply space.
If you’ve been in one of this decades’ popular suburban mini-mansions which take up an entire block you might have rolled your eyes at the oh-so-bourgeois pantries which are effectively walk-in wardrobes for food. They might have seemed like an affectation in 2016, but in 2020 they seem like excellent forward planning.
If you’re living solo then you’ve got this covered, but if you’re attempting to socially distance yourself due to potential COVID-19 exposure and you live in a house with other people, the only way to keep them from getting your disease is to have a bedroom and a bathroom all to yourself and stay in ‘em.
Again, in most city houses in the larger capitals that sort of spare-room-with-ensuite luxury is up there with helipads and swimming pools filled with long-life milk, but spare a thought for those doing it tough living masked in a five room flat, trying their level best not to infect their children.
Look, society isn’t going to collapse from this, probably. Even so, juuuuuuust on the off chance that things take an unexpected turn into Beyond Thunderdome territory then have a home that can function off the grid would seem prudent.
OK, even in the most free-floating flights of fantasy some things are obviously just impossible, at least in Australia. But hey, would have been nice, eh?
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