The advent of antibiotics from the mid-C20th ushered in a generation of healthcare building design premised on deep-density and high-rise architectural arrangements. Antibiotics arguably made possible new concentrations of scale in the delivery of healthcare services, registering a turn away from the immediate atmosphere and space of the body. The rise of pandemic infections increasingly resistant to antibiotics (AMR) has led to a revival of interest in pre-antibiotic imaginaries and, in parallel, a return to the immanent environment of the body.
In just this way, Covid-19 has called into question fundamental ways of living and building at odds with a conception of bodies rooted in their relationships to one-another and to the biotic. Both AMR and COVID-19 represent radical ‘airquakes’ (Sloterdijk), a turn towards the problematic nature of air, atmosphere, ventilation, lighting and sunlight. Here I want to explore emerging imaginaries bubbling up at the interface of bodies, buildings and bugs in the post-AMR/post-COVID world. I want to think about new kinds of immunitary defences premised on an affirmative ‘spherology of the body’ located in co-immunity with the biotic and with building design.
Nik Brown is a professor in Sociology at the University of York working across Science and Technology Studies (STS) and the Sociology of Health and Illness (SHI). Professor Brown's current and recent research projects examine architecture, airflow, breath and contagion.
Janet Newsham, of Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, currently working on the hazards of airborne COVID transmission and the 'Zero COVID' strategy.
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