Acres Architects has identified “pocket living” as a growing new trend in the interior layout design of our dwellings due to increased home working.
The term, which has also been dubbed “Open Plan 2.0” by the Nottingham-based architectural practice, describes a move away from the fully open plan designs that developers and householders have come to favour in recent years.
While open plan areas remain important to modern families, people are now demanding that additional “pockets” of functional office space are created to enable home workers to escape other distractions at home.
The vastly altered working lives of many people as a result of Covid-19 means Acres Architects has seen an increase in requests for separate working spaces – from garden office designs to reassigned dining rooms and studies in the understairs cupboard.
“This new trend towards pocket living is a consideration we are now putting forward to any new development scheme,” said Edward Acres, founder and managing director of Acres Architects.
“We’re not exactly going backwards from open plan to what we saw previously, but the trend is certainly evolving.
“The working from home situation has created one of the biggest game-changers in residential architecture that we’ve seen for quite a while. Whether it’s apartments, luxury mansions or typical family homes, people are asking for fully functioning office spaces where they can shut themselves away from everything else.”
Edward Acres said his firm’s expertise was increasingly being sought in properties where space was a premium. And in more expensive homes, where previously owners might have coveted a more decorative library or snooker room, they are now requesting genuinely operational office spaces.
The practice is also needing to ensure that these new working “pockets” are properly insulated for thermal and acoustic comfort.
“Two people at home could easily be taking work calls at the same time,” said Mr Acres. “So it’s really important that acoustics are considered as much as the actual space function, and that there are proper acoustic dividers between rooms.
“The kids might get home from school at 3pm or so, but the working day is still going on, so having a laptop on the kitchen table is not the best way to focus.”
He said that the trend for pocket spaces was also important for people’s mental health, and helping to ensure a more defined separation between work and home life.
“This is all about moving with the times. No trend lasts forever, but pocket living is certainly a new trend as a result of Covid,” said Edward Acres.
“We’re now keenly aware of what is needed in this new world of ours and, for several months, we’ve been helping people redesign their existing layouts, and advising developers on how to adjust the design of their new houses and apartments to cater for these needs – while still maximising open plan spaces.”
The new architectural trend is not isolated to Nottingham and the East Midlands. Acres Architects has dealt with approximately 73 per cent of planning authorities across the UK, and each area has witnessed this design evolution, all the way from large-scale projects to small family homes.