Moving in a pandemic

Posted June 22, 2020 by Nik Gaffney and Maja Kuzmanović

'Stay home', 'Shelter in place', 'Self-isolate'. Such instructions can only make sense with an appropriate place to stay. So, what would constitute a good shelter during a pandemic? A shelter that could become a home? Alongside the usual practicalities of location, cost or available services, what are some of the less tangible aspects to pay attention to? (You can read some of our thinking behind these questions here)

Due to a series of legal and logistical conundrums, we were required to move several times during the initial Covid-19 pandemic. While we would have preferred to ’hunker down' or 'stay put' in the comfort of a familiar environment, we instead searched for temporary homes in unpredictable circumstances.

Here are some of the questions we found useful.

Does this feel like home?

  • Is the place welcoming? 
  • Could you be at home with yourself here? At home with others?
  • Does it support your approach to 'homing'?
  • What routines and rituals could it encourage?
  • Could it accommodate both solitude and conviviality?
  • Does this place and its surroundings (neighbourhood, region, country...) resonate with you? 
  • What relationships are possible with current inhabitants in or near the place (people, plants, animals, spaces…)?
  • What is its history? Are there interesting stories to the place? Could you inhabit and build on these stories?

Would it a provide a good pandemic shelter? 

  • Would this be a good home during unpredictable circumstances? 
  • What sort of disasters could you ride out in this place?
  • Does it lend itself to periods of isolation? And for how long?
  • Is it a suitable space to live and work? Can you rest here?
  • What supply lines and resource webs is it connected to? Where does your food, water, electricity, internet (etc...) come from? Waste disposal? What and how much can you safely store here? 
  • How does it connect to the “outside” (balcony, terrace, garden, street…)?
  • Is there somewhere to grow plants? What vegetal entities are nearby? Can you see a tree? 
  • Is it walking distance from a park, forest, mountains, sea, lake or river?
  • Is it easily accessible by foot, bike or public transport?

Can it be shared?

  • Could it provide refuge for stranded travellers, displaced friends or colleagues on the move?
  • Does it have an expansive potential for use? What could it be used for?
  • Does it encourage hospitality? Does the kitchen lend itself to collective cooking (or cooking for a collective)?
  • Can it provide resources for a wider community (neighbours, extended family, a collaborative network...)?
  • Could it be collectivised? If so, how?
  • Does it encourage co-occupation & reciprocity (with humans and other entities)?
  • Could it be a node of a 'home in movement' for you and others?
  • Does it lend itself to living collectively yet apart?
  • Can it be a place to pickup, drop-off or exchange vital supplies? 
  • How would this place and its surroundings encourage, enable and maintain social connections?
  • How could it foster trans-local relationships and collaborations?