ISOscapes explore the architecture of life during lockdown

Oct 12, 2020
  • Article by Tili Bensley-Nettheim

At the beginning of Melbourne’s second COVID-19 lockdown, Jaslyn Ng, senior project architect at Billard Leece Partnership, was looking for a space to organise her thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on individuals, families and communities. She called these ISOscapes. “Short for isolation-scape” says Ng.

“Lockdown 2.0 was definitely much more challenging than the first one. Most of the stories are based on what me and my family experienced and progressively adapted as a result of the extreme COVID-19 restrictions,” explains Ng.

“How our lifestyle changed when we adopted working and learning from home. How we as a community helped each other to rebuild our new normal.” 

Ng has completed 8 ISOscapes for each of the 8 weeks of Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown. These have been re-published on Parlour’s website and Ng’s own LinkedIn. 

The What is 1.5 metres apart? ISOscape is a series of illustrations that humorously explores the challenges of physical distancing. The 1.5 metres is shown as the length of 3 Jack Russells, 1.5 German Shepherds or 2 lightsabers. 

The Women in ISO ISOscape examines the overlaps between the everyday parenting juggle, with all its demands and responsibilities, and the chaos of the lockdown.

“Women in ISO was a particularly important piece for me as that was the moment I was inspired to reach for the stars and embrace the challenges in front of me. ‘How to make working & caring for young children work’ illustration was a direct translation of how I arrange my thoughts in my mind.” 

Ng’s architectural brain is very much on show in the Building a Resilient Home ISOscape in which she graphically explains how she has adapted her home into multi-functional spaces that accommodate work, school and care.

“COVID-19 has prompted me to rethink how I prioritise the function and zoning of my home. It is a real challenge to cramp our lives into a single and multi-functional space. Nonetheless, we are still very grateful with what we can manage in our house.” 

Ng has been sketching her thoughts in this manner since  since university when they were recorded in an A5 “visual diary”. 

“There is no start and end with every thought, I always have a million things in my mind and I just work around it,” says Ng.  

Chronicling her experiences in these ISOscapes been a way for Ng to find some coherence to the anxiety of this pandemic and these have resonated across the architectural community.

“It was a great journey alongside Melbourne’s eight weeks long Stage 4 Lockdown. What started as a small platform to express myself has become something that many people resonate with.”

Explore the ISOscape series on Parlour and on Jasyln Ng’s LinkedIn.

Earlier this year, Parlour was awarded the Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize, in recognition of eight years of research advocacy and action toward achieving gender parity in architecture.

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