Welcome to the Covid-Free Office
Kate Connolly 凯特·康诺利
Not so long ago it may have seemed more like a futuristic vision of the workplace – or a hospital.
But the hands-free door handles， self-cleaning surfaces， antimicrobial paint， air-monitoring display tools， UV light disinfection robots， and 135 other measures at an office block in Bucharest are here to stay， say the creators behind what they are touting as one of the world's most virus-resilient workplaces， which they hope will become the new normal in office design.
Entering H3， a five-storey building in a western neighbourhood of the Romanian capital， is like learning the steps to a new dance. A flick of the wrist opens the door， and a red line marks the spot at which to stand from where a thermal body camera 2 metres away scans arrivals for signs of fever. Those who are “green-lighted” can follow the tracks to the self-clean lift， step on one of two foot pads and be transported through the building， safe in the knowledge that a UV lighting disinfection system installed in the ventilation shafts is keeping them infection-free between floors.
Anyone whose head flashes red on the screen， however， is whisked away by a plastic-gloved “immune steward” into a nearby quarantine room: a glass box with a panic button and its own internal ventilation system shut off from the rest of the building. A “Viruskiller” apparatus on the wall， boasting three levels of fan strength， promises to remove anything nasty such as pollutants， mould or spores that may be infecting the air， with back up provided by a sanitising UV light on the wall.
At night， a 1.2 metre tall robot traverses the building， using UV light to disinfect and eliminate pathogens. During the day， hydrogen peroxide ions are emitted from strategic points in the ventilation system: transparent panels have been fitted in the ceiling so that the mechanism can be seen.
The publicly available standard， trademarked Immune， has already been applied to several buildings in the UK. Its developers include the leading Romanian property company Genesis， also the H3 landlord， and the project has cost about € 1m.
Ultimately， is this anything more than what has been referred to as “hygiene theatre”？ There is a question as to whether investing millions of euros to refit a building is worth it， given that the spread of coronavirus partly relies on human behaviour. But Tudor argues that this is far more than theatrics. He frames his concept of a “healthy building” as the next logical step in the history of adapting architecture to dangers.