Isolated but not alone.

Lockdown. Self-Isolating. Social Distancing. Covid 19 and lockdown has brought many hurdles for all of us to overcome and, prior to 23rd March 2020, these words have never had such a prominent feature in our daily vocabulary. In recognition of lockdown’s potential hurdles and changes in communication, the MLA culture team embarked on a mission to ensure that we could transfer the Culture of the practice to a more virtual dimension. Yes, we will all be isolated, but we will not be alone.

Throughout March, April and now May the MLA team have been working remotely from home, and there have been technical changes in how we communicate and collaborate with each other. The norm has become daily internal teams meetings, office fitness sessions, weekly Zoom calls to clients and consultants, and our regular Friday office social call. As a practice, we are really making working from home work and have retained our sense of togetherness through our connectedness.

As part of the Friday social calls, our culture team launched a three-part series called “Isolated but not Alone”. The series was broken down into three chapters;- The Image of, The Architecture of and The Movement of. Each week took on the theme of the chapter and Fridays BYOB social brought us some very memorable Pecha Kutcha style presentations of all entries, with winners selected.

The Image of Isolation:

Chapter 1’s brief was to take a quick snap shot and reflect on the positives to come out of isolation as we looked at how lockdown had allowed us time to reflect, time with our loved ones, and time to focus on our health both in the kitchen and in the home gym.


The Architecture of Isolation:

Following the success of Chapter 1, in Chapter 2 we explored how current circumstances are placing a pressure on Architecture to adapt and evolve. We asked the office to use any medium such as sketches or graphics to  represent MLA’s take on the five points of a new Architecture;

  • Flexible Living Space – Compact home spaces converted into homes/offices/gyms
  • The introduction of the new 2000 x 2000mm social distancing grid
  • Increased emphasis on the value of a connection between inside outside living.
  • Framing views and vistas, maintaining visual connections to our context.
  • Separating and Connecting spaces.


The Movement of Isolation:

Chapter 3, our big finale, looked at 1950’s photographer Philippe Halsman’s series “Jump”. This series of photographs reflects on the ability of controlling your everyday facial expressions compared to the freedom of expression in jumping. We looked at the freedom of our own movement during Isolation and took the opportunity to exercise gratitude for the ability we have to move our body– no matter how small. Entities took the form of small video clips to create MLA’s first Short Film which you can view here.

Each chapter has been thoroughly attended and enjoyed with a total of 90+ entries across the whole series. We have laughed, been joined by our family members and gained meaningful insight into our colleagues’ home life… and sometimes even a little more than we would have bargained for, into their inner psyche… !

Togetherness. Collaboration. Connection. Words that post 23rd March 2020 have allowed the MLA Culture to transfer from the office to the home.