No matter how cosy or super-organized you make your work-from-home space, and no matter how many plant babies you’ve assembled on your windowsill, there’s one thing you can’t do much about: the view out your window.
And if you’re not lucky enough to have so much as a window, even with a shitty view, this might be a little lifesaver.
Window Swap is a simple, beautiful site that provides you with a random view, courtesy of video recorded out a window somewhere else in the world.
Rami’s window in Stockholm is a still balcony in a riot of green against a blue sky, with a few bright flowers; Beate’s window in Luneberg, Germany, is similarly green with idyllic suburban atmosphere, including a lawnmower and kids chattering in the background; Sana’s window, in Kazakhstan’s biggest city of Almaty, comes with a view of sunset-pink clouds over distant mountains and glowing light in a neighbour’s window, with optional background dubstep; Sandy’s slice of the Philippines is hazy, bucolic, barely a building in sight; Kurt’s Austrian window is filled by almost unacceptably beautiful, possibly alive-with-certain-sounds hills. At one point I hit the button and was casually presented with the actual pyramids of Giza.
Some are pure view, or slightly abstract yet immersive with a silhouetted window frame; others really lean into the window part, offering balcony corners, fluttering curtains, and plant-lined windowsills in much better shape than mine. Most come with background noise, from distant traffic or local kids playing, to faint music and household chatter in various languages.
Singapore-based couple Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam created the site in lockdown as a community project to help people explore the world while most of us are stuck at home. It’s submission-based, starting with views from just 15 cities a month ago when Ranjit posted it on BoredPanda — she told Reuters it’s now received over 2000 submissions. (The curation also means that you’re unlikely to be faced with someone’s exhibitionist neighbor across the canal.) Some Twitter fans are already making art based on their new views.
It’s a bit like ChatRoulette, but a bit less Russian roulette in nature when it comes to unpleasant outcomes. Each window is just a looping 10-minute slice of simple, pleasant daily life — a reminder of how much is still happening out there in the world, even though it can feel like almost everything has ground to a halt.
PSA: Some of the views will inspire crushing property jealousy — who wouldn’t rather be in a cosy glass porch on a rainy day, looking out on their blossoming yellow rose tree and *squints* outdoor pizza oven? Or hiding among the trees outside Adam’s impeccable midcentury-furnished Chicago sunroom? Others have a less Instagrammy, more down-to-earth vibe, and might make you feel a little less blah in your crowded neighborhood, fuller than ever of screaming babies and construction noise. (Confirmed: You definitely don’t need a postcard-worthy view to submit a compelling window.)
Some submitters have gone to a little extra length to provide a soothing experience, especially those who capture sunsets — like Anu in San Francisco and their burbling water feature, birdsong, and a stunning view of rolling hills, or Ankur in Kashipur’s sunburst clouds and lo-fi-chill background beats.
Throw Window Swap up on your smart TV, tablet, or second monitor, and it’s easy to pretend you’re sheltering in place literally anywhere else. And if you have an especially pleasant outlook and 10 minutes to record it (horizontally, please), share it with the world. We could all use something new to look at right now.