Compassion and connection.

Design for togetherness.


One of the many emotional challenges Covid-19 sparked was the disconnection and loneliness that can come from physical isolation. The Social Contact Pod is one of the ways the design industry has stepped up to the challenge of finding ways to safely reconnect vulnerable people with loved ones in person.

Associate Architect, Scott Brownrigg

Felicity Meares:

“If there are a few silver linings to this current pandemic, one is certainly how we no longer take for granted human connection and face-to-face interaction, especially when it comes to our loved ones. But while many of us were able to slowly return to in-person meet-ups before this curret second national lockdown, it wasn't the case for the most vulnerable in our society. Whether through illness, age, or disability, thousands across the country remain isolated in care homes, hospices and rehabilitation centres, to protect them from contamination.

Back in March, our Design Research Unit diverted all its efforts into exploring how we respond to and limit the spread of epidemics in the built environment, as well as calling on others within the profession, academia, and research world to do the same.

One of the immediate challenges that came out of our discussions was how we could help people enjoy that much-needed physical connection with vulnerable loved ones, without the risk of contamination. Incredibly quickly, the Social Contact Pod concept was born. We designed a lightweight timber pod that can be rapidly constructed and easily transported to wherever it’s needed, whether that’s a care home, hospital carpark, or garden. That all-important human contact and hand holding is made possible via a plastic membrane set into a Perspex partition that separates each group.

By working in collaboration with Ramboll, and Hoare Lea’s M&E and sustainability specialists, the pods are off-grid and can be easily repurposed or recycled. As evidence shows Covid-19 is yet again spreading through residential care homes, it seems even longer periods of isolation and loneliness for the elderly and vulnerable are on the horizon. Together, we’re looking for collaborators and funders who can support the prototype build and potential roll out.”