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CITY ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN DURING THE PANDEMIC
Posted by Space Station, Friday 22 May 2020
AS CITY DWELLERS AROUND THE WORLD ENDURE COVID-19 LOCKDOWNS, MANY ARE WONDERING HOW LIFE CAN SAFELY RETURN TO “NORMAL”
How will urban centres restore activity safely? Can we build health protection into a city’s DNA?
Our once-packed bars, busy trains and bustling offices now look like hotbeds for the spread of viruses.
Mark Kleinman, professor of public policy at King’s College London, told ITV: “We are in this strange situation where many of the benefits of cities, particularly economic benefits, have turned into vulnerabilities.”
Cities take action
As we wait for a coronavirus vaccine, authorities are finding ways to make the most of the lockdown.
In Vilnius, plans to allow cafes and restaurants to re-open have been announced.
Officials in Milan, want to capitalise on the absence of cars to introduce an ambitious new network of cycle lanes and walking space.
In the UK, Manchester’s council is reported to be looking at pedestrianising parts of the city centre. While the boroughs of Hackney and Lambeth in London have announced plans to widen pavements, close roads and improve walking and cycling.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, announced the world’s largest car-free zone initiative, as part of a green recovery plan.
Announcing the “Streetspace” initiative as part of lockdown easing measures, Khan said parts of the city centre would be declared car-free. Some streets would be converted to walking and cycling only, and others restricted to all traffic, excluding buses.
Technology is here to help
Testing for hygiene
“In the same way you have hygiene standards for restaurants, you might have exactly the same for buildings,” Mr Comber suggested.
Such assessments could measure the quality of air, social distancing measures, the safety of entrances and the management of lift space.
Mr Comber added: “We have to bring that public confidence back in and I think one way of doing that would be to have a stringent set of tests that have to be regularly done that then demonstrate that your building does have the measures, that can be evaluated, and then you do get some sort of rating.”
Putting a price on public space
TFL and other operators will be thinking how to run services in a way that is safe and keeps people distanced. But will people ever feel comfortable again?
Economic think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested that increasing peak-time ticket prices on London’s Tube and buses could help manage passenger numbers.
Mr Comber said the DRU was using computer modelling to create avatars in 3D “parallel worlds”. These simulate how contagions spread through spaces and people can safely flow through transport hubs.
“What we will need to do in buildings is make them environments where either you can get fresh air or you can have access to external environments,” he said.
Offices could provide workers more access to the outdoors through terraces or open spaces at the top of buildings.
Here to stay
Will these measures segregate and isolate people even more? Some say cities have a historical ability to adapt and survive. In the history of London, there has been massive changes. Cities are generally resilient, coping with change and coming back stronger than ever.
Change or not, cities like London will not disappear, they are here to stay.
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