For some weeks now, half of the world’s population has been forcibly locked in their homes due to the Covid-19 emergency. Almost four billion people are living an unprecedented experience, confined in spaces that until a few weeks earlier were lived absently, hastily, to be savored more slowly only during the weekend. But not that much, given that even at the weekend everyone who could afford it chased every opportunity to escape from their home or city.
Since man began to be sedentary, never in the history of mankind, have so many hours been spent at home; we have never lived and consumed the spaces of our homes as in these weeks; never have we so clearly noted their strengths, weaknesses and limitations; never have we felt these walls so protective but, at the same time, also so oppressive. And all this only for those lucky enough to have a home. The images of the homeless distributed “at a safe distance” in a Las Vegas parking lot have been broadcasted around the world, but there would be even more crude ones, if one investigated the many uncomfortable conditions that afflict the metropolises of the planet.
“Man lives poetically”, wrote in the last century a great philosopher like Martin Heidegger. But this poetry is possible when man can determine his own condition, when the house he lives in is actually the result of his choice and aspiration. Today there is very little space left for the poetry of living. On the contrary, almost all of us experience the difficulty of sharing spaces, of superimposing functions, of converting spaces originally designed for rest or leisure to work, while the desire to escape from domestic spaces grows, perhaps at the highest level ever reached in the history of humanity.
This is therefore a unique opportunity to return to reflect on the meaning of living, on that anthropological dimension that makes us different from any other living species on Earth. Overcoming the anxiety and frustration of forced confinement, we can look at our home appreciating the most minute details, which we would never have dwelled on in the past: a glimpse of the view from our windows, the fabric of a sofa, a detail of a painting hanging on the wall. But, above all, we can feel the welcoming and sometimes asphyxiated dimension of our kitchens, which have become the true sanctuaries of the house, where – willingly or not – we all spend much more time than before.
Thus, we can observe not only to appreciate, but also to understand more deeply our real housing needs. To imagine how to change and improve our living space. Who among us, in the more or less “accompanied” solitude of the forced confinement of these days, has not imagined to finally throw away that old kitchen, to give the walls a nice whitewash, to get rid of a piece of furniture that no one ever liked, or even to revolutionize the distribution of the house, to give more space to a studio that until now seemed almost redundant?
Living in the time of Covid-19 can therefore also mean living in the time of design, imagination, desire for change. Because it is known that human beings are adaptable and can endure restrictions for a long time, but also that they will never give up dreaming of a better future.