Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Digital Commons: An interdisciplinary case study of home during the pandemic

Gillick, Ambrose, Farrell, Bernardine (2023) Digital Commons: An interdisciplinary case study of home during the pandemic. In: People, Place and Policy Conference 2023: Justice during crisis, 21 June 2023, Sheffield. (Unpublished) (KAR id:102044)


This paper presents ethnographic research undertaken during Covid-19 lockdowns of an historic square in Margate, Kent, designed as an escape to wellness from smoggy 19th and 20th Century London. It describes a geographically situated case study of the square’s contemporary inhabitants; migrant populations of multiple deprivation that butted up against affluent ‘down from Londoners’ to draw attention to the divergences of ‘turning inwards’ enabled by the ubiquitous promise of universal internet-connectivity. The denial of access to established physical networks validated the incursion of technology into previously private domestic spaces – with online medical appointments, social life, food shopping, even exercise. Homelife was in this way directly transformed by inclusion to, or exclusion from the internetworked pandemic home.

Our research explored this newly imagined fortress home’s promise for a better future as encountered by affluent residents, against the liminality, transient, and alternative view of home as experienced by the migrant, homeless, socially housed, and short-term renters who still sought the sanctuary of home in the local physical spaces of community. As such, the domestic spaces of home became ‘unmade’, for both wealthier and poorer in opposing ways – the former cocooned in the fortress designed home’s glimpse of a future living with pandemics, the latter active only in their physical networks. Our lockdown research exposed the destabilising and blurring of the boundaries and character of divided groups living distinct lives. Thus, the limits of another utopian architectural vision of an amorphous, technologically dependent and socially unified society, demonstrated its limitations.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Speech)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Ambrose Gillick
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2023 14:28 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2023 09:25 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.