By now, we’ve all been overwhelmed with coverage of COVID-19’s terrifying impact. Over the past few months, events were canceled, while museums and auction halls closed their doors as well. But then, in June, things began slowly reopening. That was, of course, until certain countries, states, and cities around the world realized that they reopened too quickly, only to close their doors again.
As such, there’s no longer much sense in cataloguing every reopening. In broad strokes, the recommendations are all the same: reduce capacity to ensure physical distance, disinfect high-touch surfaces as often as possible, and requiring or recommending that everyone wear a mask. With that said, a handful of creative approaches to navigating this new normal world stand out, and merit closer inspection.
With that in mind, below are three noteworthy approaches to reopening. Each exemplifies a particular tier of classiness ranging from the high- to the low-brow, but all are united in their deployment of creativity to make the best of a bad situation.
Brilliantly Highbrow: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, Spain
Last week, Barcelona’s famed opera house marked the end of Spain’s lockdown with a performance by the UceLi string quartet for an audience of 2,292 house plants. Dreamed up by conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia, Barcelona’s biophilic performance art was intended as “a highly symbolic act that defends the value of art, music, and nature as a letter of introduction to our return to activity,” according to a statement from the opera house.
The concert was livestreamed to a human audience, and each of the locally purchased plants lucky enough to score a seat to the historic show will be donated to an essential worker at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. While it’s not the last concert to be played in an empty venue this year, this surely raises the bar in terms of “audience” aesthetics.
Brilliantly Respectable: Mediamatic, Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s Mediamatic is an art center that frequently explores the relationship between nature, science, and design. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they’ve introduced a series of individual greenhouses dubbed “Serres Séparées” for use at their on-site vegan restaurant. With enough space for two or three diners, each glass dining pod provides an intimate canal-side setting for a summer meal.
Servers, who wear face shields and gloves, slide the food into each pod on a wooden plank to ensure relatively hygienic and unobtrusive service. After successful trial runs in May, the unique take on the return to dining has garnered positive reviews since Amsterdam officially allowed restaurants to reopen in June.
Brilliantly Lowbrow: Burger Kings in Germany
Whereas the prior two examples of meeting the challenges of COVID-19 take their cues from the worlds of art and design, this tongue-in-cheek method for ensuring physical distancing might have roots in your childhood memories. To commemorate reopening in Germany, Burger King created “social-distance crowns,” which enlarge the regal children’s headwear into an oversized version.
There’s ultimately no wrong way to open up again—as long as it’s done safely. But don’t be surprised if more businesses, institutions, and events find ways to return that are both wonderful and strange, thus making them memorable in their own way.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest