Designing the Quarantine Path


I don’t know about you guys, but personally, this whole pandemic situation has been giving me quite a bit of anxiety.

As a way to calm my nerves during these crazy times, I've been spending some time designing imaginary spaces.

I haven't designed something for the fun of it, for a long time.

The reality of working in architecture is that you rarely get to design something to just express an idea. There’s always the constraints of the program, the budget, or the zoning - of course, because buildings are meant to be built and used by people.

However, today, I will be leaving all of that aside, and create something that is purely spatial and conceptual.


I will be designing a path to express some of the emotions of the current situation, like anxiety, uncertainty, separation, and relief. A quarantine path

But first of all... What is a path

Merriam Webster defines path as: 

path: the continuous series of positions or configurations that can be assumed in any motion or process of change by a moving or varying system

A path can also be the space between multiple destinations, and thus, representing some quality of both. A path doesn’t have any other function but to move through, which is why it is the perfect program for depicting a spatial idea. 


Quarantine is a state of enforced isolation, where we must withhold from normal communication or physical contact from each other. There is anxiety, uncertainty, separation but I am hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

So in the simplest sense, the quarantine path is a simple box with a dividing wall, physically separating people walking on either sides of the path. The goal is to create a sense of anxiety and a sense of relief throughout the progression of the journey.


This sense of anxiety is created with a narrow, dark hall. As we approach the narrow hall, it is uncertain what is beyond. This experience is heightened by bringing people in from a contrasting, expansive space. This is a spatial trick called compression and release, which inevitably became a big part of my architectural vocabulary after visiting a 100 or so of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings. 


I started off the plan in a rectangular box, as I usually do, with a diagonal wall across the space. The diagonally positioned wall creates a space that goes from wide to narrow on both sides. I then decided that, while we should be able to experience both of anxiety and relief on either sides, that the experience on either sides should, in the end, be different. After all, we are all going through unique experiences. That led me to creating an angle in the dividing wall, and to changing the plan into a trapezoid. When I eventually brought this into the model, I also created a slope in the roof, so that the space gets smaller in height, while also getting narrower in width. 


Usually, after the diagramming process, I move into a plan or a section but since this is going to be a purely experiential space, I thought it might be more important to get a good feel of the space, while also picking out my perspectives that I’ll want to render. I began to sketch out what I wanted the space to feel like, and this process has led me make some small changes, like curving the dividing wall, to create a smoother transition to the narrow hall. 


Here, I’m getting a feel of scale and light conditions. I want the expansive spaces to be flooded with light so that there’s a moment of pause when you enter in from the narrow hall. There are several ways of achieving this. I landed on using a single, large, South facing skylight to bring light into both spaces. I like the idea of both spaces sharing the light source, each space impacted by the other. The dividing wall, at the narrow point, becomes fairly tall and curved, to catch the light. 


With a general idea of what I want the space to feel like, I move into a 3d model before progressing the design any further. I personally like to move into 3d modelling at a fairly early stage in the design because I can iterate multiple versions of design, while quickly visualizing the light conditions, scale, shape, etc. 


Since I’m only trying to create a simple spatial experience, I pick out one or two perspectives that I think will most effectively illustrate my concept. I only spend time detailing those parts of the model, not any other. 

render01_03 copy.jpg

From here, I will pull out a few renders. I’ve already applied the materials and light conditions, so there’s not a ton of post processing I need to do. Once I bring it into Photoshop, I adjust the exposure, do a bit of dodge and burn, and add a person in. Always add people in for scale!

render02_03 copy.jpg

And that’s that’s it.

I hope you guys enjoyed this short description of my design process. If you have any questions or suggestions on what you’d like to see next, send me an email at

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