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Virus artwork

Virus artwork

The coronavirus lockdown has forced us to adjust to a new reality

Emily Booth
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We’ve entered a whole new world with changing terminology and priorities, says Emily Booth

So we’re nearly three weeks into the coronavirus lockdown. As a society, we’re learning and adjusting to a new reality – fast. We’ve had an existential reminder about what really matters: health, community, enough money to survive.

Our children are drawing rainbows to stick on windows. Some of our community are feeling the sharp shock of grief. We’re applauding our heroic NHS workers and now we’re clapping the essential workers who had previously been some of the least respected (and worst paid) in our communities: carers, supermarket assistants, refuse collectors, delivery drivers.

We’re doing outside exercise once a day (hoping that allowance won’t be reduced, and reminded just how important green public space is). The Queen has said we’ll meet again. If we’re lucky enough to have a job, we’re adjusting to remote working.

In the middle of the madness, the AJ is working to support and inspire you

We’re learning employment terms we never wanted to know about (who had even uttered the word ‘furlough’ before the virus hit?) We’re paying attention to not just whether we’ll be paid, and how much, but how we’re paid. Dividend payments, the way many architectural practice directors are remunerated, currently fall outside the chancellor’s relief package for self-employed workers.

And we’re trying to look after our mental health. It can be difficult to get a handle on the uncertainty of the whole situation. When will the lockdown be lifted? How will we get back to some sort of normal? How can we take time to breathe, take stock and heal?

In the middle of the madness, the AJ is working to support and inspire you. For the practical side of life, we’re publishing our coronavirus survival basics: ‘how-to’ guides for key areas such as financial help for practices and tips for the self-employed.

For time out, we’ve launched Sketchbook – an opportunity to share your sketches and wonderful creativity that feels particularly pertinent in this exceptional time. 

And the building studies this week will give you a breather: Glenn Howells’ east London ‘dance factory’ for English National Ballet and Hallé St Peter’s in Manchester by stephenson STUDIO.

The AJ will continue to bring you the news, analysis, building features and inspiration throughout this crisis and beyond in the expectation that this shared exceptional experience is going to fast-track a different future for us all.

Recently, the novelist Francesca Melandri wrote a moving piece in The Guardian:A letter to the UK from Italy’. This line resonated with me: ‘If we turn our gaze to the more distant future, the future which is unknown both to you and to us too, we can only tell you this: when all of this is over, the world won’t be the same.’

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