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Sharing a home under lockdown in London

Blanc, Fanny ORCID: 0000-0002-5835-6507 and Scanlon Bradley, Kathleen ORCID: 0000-0001-9957-4853 (2022) Sharing a home under lockdown in London. Buildings & Cities, 3 (1). 118 - 133. ISSN 2632-6655

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Identification Number: 10.5334/bc.182


Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a wave of research into the interaction between the coronavirus and housing. This study examines the experience of adult sharers, using qualitative evidence from an online survey, during the early months of the pandemic. This contributes to the evidence about housing quality, particularly the adaptability and flexibility of the dwelling and wellbeing under the pressures of lockdown. Few homes were built to perform the multiple functions leisure and work, particularly London homes—which are the smallest in the country in terms of floor area per inhabitant. As office-based work shifted to the home in the early stages of lockdown, adult sharers faced a range of practical and spatial challenges. Those working from home had to reconsider (and sometimes reconfigure) their homes as workspaces, and negotiate the use of space with fellow residents. Many ‘solutions’ were deemed inadequate and lockdown conditions generated interpersonal tensions in many sharer households, but strengthened bonds in others. The pandemic changed sharers’ aspirations for their future housing. The findings are relevant for planning and housing policy, including standards for new-build residential units and the requirements for existing houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). POLICY RELEVANCE New evidence is provided on how homes were used under conditions of stress: both the pandemic and the consequent shift of homes into workplaces were unexpected shocks. The effect of these shocks was magnified for adult sharers. Their experience underlines the importance of designing quality homes whose size and spatial configuration permits flexible arrangements of furniture and uses. Planning policy and design approaches should reflect this need for flexible and varied uses. The evidence also suggests the need to review overall space standards (not just bedroom sizes) in HMOs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: LSE London
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2022 11:57
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 02:45

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