ArgumentNo. 13/2021

Face to Face in the Built Space: Koch's Bacillus, Influenza Viruses and Coronaviruses. Architectural Design versus Transmissible Respiratory Disease

  • / PhD. arch., “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, RO


In the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic of 2020-2021, the subject of architectural space versatility is to be addressed firstly concerning its ability to be used or to be adapter for being used – precisely in this order – safely, efficiently and inducing a pleasant experience. The article discusses to what degree the above stated requirements lead to altering, in the short term or in the long term, of the way in which architects configure the built space.

The analysis is conducted by means of a comparison between the mechanisms through which the pathogens of tuberculosis, of influenza and coronaviruses have affected or still do affect the architectural creation process and, implicitly, its products. Referring to past or recent experiences and throwing light on the notable similarities and distinctions between the above listed situations, the on-going pandemic can be regarded from a larger perspective, allowing for tracing a more precise optimal roadmap. After taking into consideration the relevant global evolutions, the article also leans over some context details regarding the Romanian territory, investigating their implications.

The analysis thus operated, makes visible the distinction between the built space elements and configurations that contribute to the protection against all of the transmissible respiratory maladies taken into consideration, on the one side, and the ones only bearing a limited use. The importance of the approach resides not only in helping the architects orient when dealing with individual projects, but also in potentially influencing some decisions bearing a larger impact - technical ones, such as building regulations, or political and administrative ones, like the allocation of resources.

This article represents a continuation of the research, a deepening of the ideas and a test of the conclusions of my recently defended PhD thesis, titled “Imprints of Tuberculosis in the Built Environment. Overall Evolutions and Romanian Hypostases”.

Keywords: built environment, architecture, tuberculosis, transmissible respiratory diseases, epidemic

Published in Argument 13/