Designing for human scale begins with contemporary culture and everyday life. As the COVID-19 pandemic transformed how we work and live around the world, it's also changed how we think about human scale in the city. For Brazilian architect Leonardo Fernandes Dias of LADO Arquitetura, the global transformation in urban life is directly tied to health, public space and architecture.
Bringing his design ideas to life, Dias was recently named the People's Choice Winner in the 2020 Coronavirus Design Competition. In a new interview with ArchDaily, Leonardo Fernandes Dias explores the impact of COVID-19 and what it will mean for cities, as well as his personal design inspirations and how architecture and entrepreneurship can empower local communities to imagine new futures.
Why did you choose to study architecture?
I chose to study architecture because it has a huge impact on daily life. I have always wanted to contribute to my city and people’s lives. Architecture is the crossover between many fields of study; you have to be creative & analytical and deal with the small & big scale simultaneously, and I really like that.
ArchDaily’s monthly topic for October is Human Scale. What do you believe is the relationship between scale & design in your work?
Architecture is all about the relationship between us and space; so the sense of scale is a key factor in design. To me, a good way to work is to consider flexibility; so your design can adapt and deal with different situations. For example, I always try to use modules. Modules give me more flexibility to adapt the design for different scales, like I did with a team in a competition to design a Bike Center. When you have a limited space you use a single or fewer modules. However, it also has the flexibility to turn into something much bigger which would make sense in a wide public space.
You recently won the Coronavirus Design Competition. Can you tell us more about your proposal and what you hoped to achieve?
My proposal for the Coronavirus Design Competition was entitled as R.I.P Requiescat in Pace (To remember. To Inform. To Protect). It was an urban totem designed to assist in three urgent topics. The first one was the creation of a memorial for COVID-19 victims displaying photos and their stories through four screens. It would honor those who we lost and at the same time would humanize the numbers, raising awareness about the topic.
The second one was to provide reliable information to people through displaying official information about the virus and the pandemic situation in order to fight against fake news. The third was to offer people hygiene in the urban space though a system that uses water and soap obtained from a sensor-activated dispenser with no touch required.
The aim of Coronavirus Design Competition was to simply bring out new ideas from the design community. However, after getting nominated as the People's Choice Winner and a Finalist, my proposal attracted a lot of attention and I was able to make it a reality through a national support network for families affected by COVID-19. Through their support and the support of my city of Sao Paulo in Brazil, twenty stations were built all over the city as part of an big ongoing effort through the end of November.
What are some projects you’re currently working on?
Right now I’m working on the expansion of the urban totem project. There are some opportunities to bring them to other cities in Brazil and also Europe. The idea is to have it as a permanent structure in the public space but it can also work as an urban artifact and ephemeral memorial as well.
I’ll also be part of the jury on the new Covid-19 Community Memorial Design Competition organized by DesignClass. The team used my proposal as an inspiration for this new competition and I’m really excited to see all proposals. Besides that I’m working on two digital projects Archtutorial and BASE Colab. Both are architectural platforms focused on collaborative content created by and for students and young professionals.
With changes to climate, technology, and construction, how do you think architects and designers will adapt ways of practicing to advance the profession?
I believe technology will have an important role in our profession. With better technology we will be able to design more precisely, with more data to analyze and more tools to find the best solution for specific situations. We have to use that technology to have a more efficient and sustainable world, focusing on renewable energy for example.
Changes due to COVID-19 have been swift. How do you think the pandemic will shape design?
Since the beginning of this pandemic we have had to reimagine public spaces and how we do things. From now on, designers will increasingly consider equipment and services that don't require touch, like card machines, bathrooms, as well as open and ventilated public spaces. Even when the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, we will keep many of these new habits and design ideas.
As you look to the future, are there any ideas you think should be front and center in the minds of architects and designers?
Being forced to quarantine has made people realize how important public space is. Contact with other people, and especially nature, parks and outdoors spaces, has been a lifeline. Even our relationship with our home has changed. We saw how important it is to have a comfortable place to rest (and now to work) so we have to value these aspects even more and that should be reflected in their design. Also I think memorials will be an important and necessary way of remembering this unique time period we are going through. We need to remember that we made it through and overcame what we're experiencing.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Human Scale. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.