Research into lack of separation between work and home indicates significant negative impacts on mental health. A 20-minute walk, on the other hand, has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Rather than reinvent the home to include office space, this is a proposal to re-think communities to provide flexible workspaces within a short walk from your front door.
During lockdowns local areas became the focus for daily life, with parks and green spaces used as centres for leisure and fitness and neighbourhood shops and cafés thriving due to increased footfall. In the short-term, 20-Minute Commute proposes the re-use of existing infrastructure via the retrofit of vacant shops, pubs and other buildings into flexible workspaces. Increased local activity will support existing retail and hospitality businesses while acting as a catalyst for start-ups. The long-term plan builds upon this model by providing permanent but flexible office spaces at the same locations, centred around green open spaces and shared gardens.
The proposal calls for new planning policy requiring developments of 10 or more residential units to provide permanent workspace, integrated or stand alone, that are open to the community to use for free. Funding would be via a developer contribution similar to current S106 agreements with maintenance paid for by an addition to business rates.
Elli Farrant Architects:
Ella Wright, Elli Farrant