By Leo Liu
Virtually all students have been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. From the restriction of social distancing arose the transition towards online teaching, some courses were ready for this change while others weren’t. Undoubtedly, online teaching removed the element of face-to-face contact which has been proven to be crucial throughout this period of time, leaving students to engage with tutors in an arguably less interactive and meaningful fashion.
Personally, COVID-19’s impact on me was much more emotional rather than physical. I often found myself struggling to find the motivation or strength to keep up my studies but spent more time being frustrated at the situation at hand. This was what I believe, a direct result of how the long hibernation period this virus created gave me more time to think about my own thoughts and actions within everyday life. When all distractions are removed from my surrounding environment, I should in theory have more time to focus and study. However, this was not the case, I ended up spending even more time procrastinating which reduced my motivation even further, generating a toxic cycle which many others I’ve spoken with unfortunately had too.
Evidently, my learning capacity and education during this period of time has decreased greatly, both in quantity and quality. Some classes were cut short while others were disorganised due to the change in teaching method as some tutors were unfamiliar with the online system. One unit in particular required the creation of a physical working lighting device, which was no longer possible as students are not able to access the workshop on campus. Overall, the transition to online teaching was not smooth nor pleasant, but both the students and tutors adapted in time while learning new ways of working online.
As for my research project, I began to question my own investigation into Virtual Reality for Interior Architecture and doubted the necessity of my topic to the creative field. The experiences from COVID-19 have emphasised to me how important it is to have physical interaction and movement with our surrounding landscape, leading me to believe the digital realm only stretches further away from the norm. The daily commutes and transits I take from one space to another are crucial to the way I live. During those transitions, I process my thoughts and allow myself to get ready for the task ahead. However, being stuck within the comfort of my own house only means the mental transition from relaxation to study comes in much more jarring fashion. I am no longer able to enjoy the comforting view of streets before entering my University, but now only walk a few steps towards the same computer I use for entertainment and relaxation.
On a positive note, COVID-19 has allowed me to further understand the complexities of how we interact and use Architecture, while reinforcing my desire for creating Interior Architectural environments which enhances human wellbeing and provided me with guidance towards the next step within my research project. This event has also opened up many opportunities for the future of online and overseas work as many jobs which were deemed not suited for online have proven to be possible through this unprecedented time. I believe the way we design will improve from change, and this event will once again re-establish how we design and create.
Leo Liu is in the fourth-year honours stream of Interior Architecture at Curtin University. I have a strong interest in the innovations and creative changes new technology bring to the architectural world as I believe technology will be the element which advances Architecture towards human wellbeing. I am currently undertaking a research project on the topic of Virtual Reality and Interior Architecture, focusing on the expanding possibilities of the digital realm.