Post-Pandemic Public Spaces

Over the past year and a half, we have attempted to identify and describe the influence the pandemic has had on our public spaces and how this has inspired new ideas for the future thereof. Through research, surveys, and interviews which are presented in a documentary, we managed to document the excitement which was shown towards improving our public spaces during the pandemic. The pandemic has underlined and accelerated the need for change in our public spaces, consequently, this documentary is more relevant than ever. People tend to get used to life easily and revert to old habits. We hope that through this documentary we have a medium to hold on to that reminds us of the importance of our public spaces and the wake-up call we had during the pandemic.

This documentary is part of the research of the Design of the Public Space Research Group, led by  Maurice Harteveld, within the department of Urbanism at TU Delft. Post-Pandemic Public Spaces is about the future of our public spaces and was filmed and produced by Matt van Kessel, Hanlin Stuer, and Olivier Wiegerinck as part of their Bachelor Honours Programme.

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PPPS Episodes

Post-Pandemic Public Spaces is about the future of our public spaces and was filmed and produced by Matt van Kessel, Hanlin Stuer, and Olivier Wiegerinck as part of their Bachelor Honours Programme, under the supervision of Maurice Harteveld, Claudiu Forgaci, Birgit Hausleitner of the Design of the Public Space Research Group, within the department of Urbanism at TU Delft.

List of episodes Post-Pandemic Public Spaces

The first episode of the documentary Post-Pandemic Public Spaces ‘Challenges’ introduces expected paradigmatic shifts caused by the situation induced by the COVID-19 crisis. It extends the discussion on public space, which has been about making cities more sustainable and liveable while working with major transitions. During the pandemic, health has been challenged in addition. Also, new ways of using public space have become manifest. This exposes different claims. Can we continue to use public spaces as we did? Are we reverting to our old behaviour? Do we realise how important public space is? In conjecture with the challenges that already emerged before the crisis, we can question if we shouldn’t reduce traffic, for example, and kick-off from our car addiction? New challenges have an effect on the size, accessibility, and quality of the public spaces and, together with changing human needs, its presence and design remain to be essential in the future.

The second episode ‘Design’ dives further into the challenges in the post-pandemic era and it illuminates possible design solutions. The documentary searches for approaches in which the design of public spaces can be updated and improved. It also questions if there is any one-size-fits-all public space at all. Depending on how and if people can get there, public space are very different as are people. Not all spaces are equally attractive and safe to stay in. From a different angle we may question; who is touched by which place, and how. Differences have become very clear during the pandemics and awareness on this has risen. Public space is also no longer static, but constantly adaptive to new needs. How can we design for this? Can we design for flexibility? Can we release physical design; if so, to what extend? The increasing need for green space is also exemplary for the post-pandemic era; partly grown out of necessity for health reasons, recreational purposes, or simply a lack of space in the house. We will have to design green spaces as a new quiet place, and for outdoor activities like sports, online connectivity in public, and/or just natural climate-adaptive space at the same time.

The third episode ‘Mobility’ follows up on the discussed new ways to approach the design of public spaces and it shines particularly the light on the changing mobility patterns. This includes general strategies to remove cars and give space back to the residents. Yet, induced by the COVID-19 crisis, these approaches move to a shift in commuting patterns: Will people keep working from home? Do they want to spend an hour in the car or on the train for four or five days when there is an alternative in the remote office and on-distance work? Other travel needs emerge, depending on the needs and desires of the different social groups. The pandemic influenced public transport. Many people feared this mode. Trust will have to be regained in order to make mobility more sustainable by traditional means. New forms of individual transport have taken off in addition. Think of micro-mobility, like shared scooters. Thus multi-modal chain mobility seems to increase in importance. The concept of the 15-minute city, in which living and working hybridise and facilities and amenities are nearby, also seems to have made a breakthrough too. Places and mobility are being brought together, in the words of Lior Steinberg. This may resemble the Dutch-rooted idea of neighborhood thought (‘wijkgedachte’), making cities fairly democratic: Everyone uses similar modes of transport; bike use as examplars for the world. Still, also in the Dutch city, pedestrian traffic and social safety need to be improved.

The fourth episode of the series presents the topic ‘Inequality’. In line with last episode, it is important to remember how mobility relates to (in)equality. The measurements taken during COVID-19 outbreak, like social distancing and staying home, has shown once more that not everyone has the same pattern, can have the same pattern, and/or is able to have equal patterns. Public spaces in different neighbourhoods have different qualities. The pandemic has shown that not everyone lives under the same conditions. Not everyone has access to equal public spaces. There is, for example, not always shaded space near the house. Places for stay in general and distances to recreational (green) spaces can differ greatly, as is the safety along the routes not equal. Power structures and distribution of resources, if we define public space along these lines, are unequal almost by definition, and thus access abilities and agency is diverse. This, generates questions: How can we realise a more inclusive network of public space? How can we create a human space, lively at the street level? What public amenities and facilities should we include? Is privately-owned public space a (fair) solution? Can we create common spaces on the roof, for example? What needs to be done in different neighborhoods to contribute to a just city?

The fifth episode presents ‘Behaviour’. With the interviewees, the discussion on inequality is stretched to people’s behaviour in the public space. How has it changed during and after the pandemics and did their perceptions of public spaces change along? City beaches and parks have become popular, while the lack of outdoor terraces, restaurants, or discos has been manifest. Measurements taken during the pandemic have forced a change in our behaviour. While social distancing will be abandoned and masks in general, we seem to have become aware of human vulnerability. Public health will be related to public space again. What more will stay in the future? A lot of people have canceled their sports club subscriptions. Everyone is training outside now. It’s really nice to see all those active people, says Annemieke Fontein; but at the same time, it also takes up space and changes the nature of parks as designed for quiet relaxation. Also in other forms, we can see that the need for connection, and in particular for encounters and meetings, in public spaces has grown. Yet whereas online presence continues to grow, thus new networks emerge and ways to meet change, thus place to meet also change. Communities gather in a wide variety of public spaces. Are new bubbles emerging? When will people come together as a whole? The culture of a place; and of a city will change and develop. Appreciating public space as a daily life environment in the Netherlands has one of the positive outcomes of the pandemics.

The sixth episode of ‘Post-Pandemic Public Spaces’ is the last chapter of the series. The previous five episodes have explored the future of our public spaces. At the end of each episode, key factors are summarised. This final episode concludes the journey by bringing together important lessons learned and setting the agenda for the future design of the public space. Enjoy the ‘Conclusion’!

This documentary is part of the research of the Design of the Public Space Research group, department of Urbanism at TU Delft.

Design-Driven Doctoral Research

The Strategic Partnership CA²RE+ develops a collective learning environment through the evaluation of Design Driven Doctoral Training. Design Driven Doctoral research (DDDr) is taken as a multidisciplinary example of an experiential learning-through-evaluation model, appropriate for identification and promoting relevance of research singularity, its transparency, and recognition, to award excellence in doctoral training for creative and culturally rooted solutions of contemporary design-driven developments. The CA²RE+ project starts in September 2019, finishes in August 2022, and represents a trigger of the CA²RE Conference developments.

As the final to the CA²RE+ series under the themes of observation and sharing (strategies), comparison and reflection (experiences), and reformulation have led to this last event under the theme of recommendation. It provides a platform where both the learners and educators contribute to chartering future recommendations for Design-Driven Doctoral Research (DDDr). To combine the accumulated experience and knowledge in the previous events, the emphasis on the doctoral candidates’ experience and views within the DDDr programmes will play a key role both in the formulation and validation of the future recommendations within the project’s last phase, namely the framework for DDDr.

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Public Health + Public Space

Health is an important societal topic in the Netherlands. In one of the most densely populated countries in the world, healthy living environments reduce diseases, deaths, healthcare costs, and shifts focus from prevention and medicalising on the individual levels to taking care of communities. Still, for example, the air quality in the Netherlands is considered moderately unsafe, resulting in the highest rate of asthmatic children worldwide. The same goes for recordings of diseases related to polluting substances on land and in water. This makes public spaces social determinants of public health. We see similar correlations when it comes to the presence of infectious microbes and parasites, and environmental stress. Especially in world port-cities like Rotterdam unhealthy conditions coincide with unequal socio-spatial patterns. Here the impact on individual health is largely untraceable. Understanding the impact of inherent industrial and human activities on urban areas at the neighbourhood level and crossing it with heterogeneous data sets help us understand the socio-spatial impact of pollution-related and vector-borne diseases on cities. Measuring environmental pollution in public spaces can tell us e.g. more about the impact of air quality on citizens as a group. Statistical time series and cross-sectional data analyses can be applied to generate valid correlations if they are made geo-specific. By using machine learning and AI technologies we cross data on environmental pollution with other heterogenous socio-spatial and temporal data sets. The use of mapping, spatial statistics, and urban narratives including historical data can lead to a better understanding of the lived experience at the local level. Through workshops at the local level and notably in the public spaces of the city, we engage the general public and local decision-makers in discussions on public health using advanced computer models for visualisation. The Rotterdam case study provides insights applicable in other cities internationally.

See: Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) initiative on Public Health and Public Space

Designing Domestic Places

Public space is the place to play, move and meet. This applies to our rich city center with all its shops and restaurants, but just as much to residential areas. But how can we make these public spaces even more attractive for all types of users?

At the beginning of February, students from TU Delft, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, and Inholland University of Applied Sciences developed various ideas for the public space in the Tanthof district. In various teams, the students have investigated how existing routes or routes to be designed can be provided with ‘stopping points’: places where you can rest for a while, look around and chat with other residents.

During this meeting of Delft Design, these design sketches will be briefly explained and we would like to discuss these design sketches with you and, among others, Tako Postma (City Architect of Delft), Eveline Berghout – van der Schee (urban designer, City of Delft), Maurice Harteveld (researcher, Design of Public Spaces, TU Delft), Ben Kuipers (landscape architect) and Flip Krabbendam ( architect) in a discussion about the preconditions for successful public space.

The discussion starts with a lecture on
Designing Domestic Places
by Maurice Harteveld

Afterward, there is an opportunity to chat and view the different designs. This while enjoying a snack and drink.
The challenge is organized by Delft Design in collaboration with the City Deal Kennis Maken Delft, study association POLIS and architect Flip Krabbendam.
 De openbare ruimte is dé plek voor spelen, bewegen én ontmoeten. Dat geldt voor onze rijke binnenstad met al zijn winkels en horeca, maar even zo goed voor woonwijken. Maar hoe kunnen we deze publieke ruimten nog aantrekkelijker maken voor alle type gebruikers?

Begin februari hebben studenten van de TU Delft, De Haagse Hogeschool en Hogeschool Inholland verschillende ideeën uitgewerkt voor de openbare ruimte in de wijk Tanthof. In verschillende teams hebben de studenten onderzocht hoe bestaande of nieuw te ontwerpen routes kunnen worden voorzien van ‘halteplaatsen’: plekken waar men even kan uitrusten, kan rondkijken en een praatje kan maken met andere bewoners.



Tijdens deze bijeenkomst van Delft Design worden deze ontwerpschetsen kort toegelicht en gaan we graag met u en onder andere Tako Postma (stadsbouwmeester van Delft), Eveline Berghout – van der Schee (stedebouwkundige. City of Delft), Maurice Harteveld (onderzoeker, Design of Public Spaces, TU Delft), Ben Kuipers (landschapsarchitect) en Flip Krabbendam (architect) in gesprek over de randvoorwaarden van succesvolle openbare ruimte.



De discussie wordt geopend met een lezing over
Het Ontwerpen van Huiselijke Plekken
door Maurice Harteveld

Na afloop is er gelegenheid tot napraten en het bekijken van de verschillende ontwerpen. Dit onder het genot van een hapje en drankje.
De challenge wordt georganiseerd door Delft Design in samenwerking met de City Deal Kennis Maken Delftstudievereniging POLIS en architect Flip Krabbendam.

The Public Space as Meeting Place
De Openbare Ruimte als Ontmoetingsplek

where:
Prinsenkwartier en online

when:
2 March 2020
open 19.30, start 20.00 untill 22.00

More: Delft Design, City Deal Kennis Maken Delft

Design Challenge for Students

City Deal ‘Kowlegde Making Delft’ is organising a challenge about the use and design of public space for ambitious students who would like to push their boundaries. How can we make the public space more attractive for all types of users as a place to play, move and to meet?

More: Design Challenge: Public Space as a Meeting Place

Partners:
the Municipality of Delft
The Hague University of Applied Sciences
Inholland University of Applied Sciences
Delft University of Technology
Delft Design

Biographies of Places

Today, historiographies seem to have moved away from traditional political and diplomatic histories describing cities towards social and cultural approaches. In general, this current shift of interest follows a Late-Modern turn toward the marginalized and marginalizing evidence, and thus explicit hypotheses are tested, and, among others, unbiased data is collected by current biographers. Still, certain narratives stay manifest. Also in Rotterdam. Here, bifocal narratives on the world port and the cosmopolitan city, and the dichotomy among these territories, remain persistent in the most recent biographies. What is seen in everyday space does not match this ontology generally applied in Rotterdam. To greater extent, as such, the samples of the biographies of public spaces as places help to fulfill the most essential public function of researching and abiding justification, while reinvigorating the critical public present in spaces. By opening up to the multiplicity of narratives, the article ‘The Port-City Portrayed in its Public Spaces: Introducing Micro Biographies of Places’ is able to focus on descriptions of Rotterdam which fall outside the scope of the current conventional. Through the lens of ‘biographies of places’, this study particularly follows the so-called material turn, in difference to stories of lives or narratives on actor networks. Hence buildings and artifacts placed in context, are the principal unit of analysis, for a multidimensional interpretation of urban sites across regions and periods.

The approach is operationalized by linking the urban and architectural design of public space, with studies of urban history, literature, cartography, and other urban humanities. This integrated perspective on port-cities is put forward most recently in a wider variety of projects at the LDE Centre of PortCityFutures, which has been promoted and supported for the approach below.

Harteveld, M.G.A.D. (2021) The Port-City Portrayed in its Public Spaces: Introducing Micro Biographies of Places. In: PortusPlus: the Journal of RETE (Association for the Collaboration between Ports and Cities). Venice: RETE, Vol. 12.

See also:
Port-City Perspectives
Maritime Mindsets

Solving the Dutch Housing Crises

The Port of Rotterdam as Solution
The Dutch housing shortage is manifesting itself on all fronts. There are too few rental properties, but also too few homes for starters, large families, and retirees. Mortgage rates are low, but house prices are skyrocketing. And those who do not qualify for social housing will pay themselves blue. How do we ensure that everyone has the right to a suitable home?
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“Anchorman Klaas van Kruistum, Michiel Hulshof of Tertium and Claire van der Meer of the Universiteit van Nederland believe that every complex problem has a solution. And together we use the best of Dutch science to find it!”
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In episode 2 of ‘De Oplossers’ of KRO-NCRV, Maurice Harteveld explains how the current harbour areas of Rotterdam could be the game changers in the housing crisis. Do we want to sacrifice the green pastures around the city or the harbour areas with large-scale polluting industries?
De Rotterdamse Haven als Oplossing
De Nederlandse woningschaarste manifesteert zich op alle fronten. Er zijn te weinig huurwoningen maar ook te weinig woningen voor starters, grote gezinnen en gepensioneerden. De hypotheekrente is laag, maar de woningprijzen rijzen de pan uit. En wie niet in aanmerking komt voor een sociale huurwoning betaalt zich blauw. Hoe zorgen we ervoor dat iedereen recht heeft op een geschikte woning?
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“Presentator Klaas van Kruistum, Michiel Hulshof van Tertium en Claire van der Meer van de Universiteit van Nederland, denken dat elk complex probleem een oplossing kent. En gebruiken samen het beste van de Nederlandse wetenschap om die te vinden!”
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In aflevering 2 van ‘DeOplossers’ van KRO-NCRV legt Maurice Harteveld uit hoe de huidige havengebieden van Rotterdam weleens de gamechangers in de Wooncrisis kunnen zijn.
Willen we het groene weiland om de stad opofferen of de havengebieden met de grootschalige vervuilende industrie?

where:
Episode #2 – Woningtekort
KRO-NCRV, NPO Radio 1
Friday 17 December 2021
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Listen as podcast: NPO Radio 1 – De Oplossers, or via Spotify, Apple Podcast, Podtail, and Google Podcast.

Cross-Media Website: De Oplossers
More: KRO-NCRV Press Release

Port-City Perspectives


Infographic of the Comparative Analyses on the two Sets of Mental Maps

In the Minds of People: The Case of Rotterdam

Following the geographical ‘Any-Port Model’, urban design has stipulated and enforced the disunion of port and city over the recent decades. In conjunction with other disciplines, the emphasis has been laid at the dislocation of production activities in favour of logistic-productive dynamics. At the same time, the professional focus was on the urban areas where most citizens are. While this practice has led to the redevelopment of abandoned harbour areas too, foremost the approach stimulated stronger physical boundaries between lived city and the remaining and new harbour areas. This article describes the application of the dominant model in Rotterdam over the recent decades, on the basis of literature review, and, it confronts this with the concepts of Rotterdam which are in the minds of professionals-in-training, through the method of ‘mental mapping’. On the one hand, mainly harbour areas are memorised when respondents are asked to draw the port-city of Rotterdam, even though its efficient port infrastructure makes public space in these areas rare, and most harbours are located behind inaccessible borders. On the other hand, civic areas, which have a refined network of public spaces and are places for daily life, reveal also all kinds of tangible and intangible signs and symbols related to characteristics of the port-city when memorised; even more. Various elements, linked to water-land or the flows of goods, people, and ideas, dominate the minds of the people when they think of Rotterdam in general. These outcomes reconfirm the unique unity of port and city and provide a way to find an alternative or supplementary model accepting the complex nature of port-cities.

Read:
Harteveld, Maurice (2021) In the Minds of People: Port-City Perspectives, The Case of Rotterdam, In: European Journal of Creative Practices in Cities and Landscapes (CPCL), Vol. 4, No. 2.

See also:
Maritime Mindsets
Biographies of Places

Maritime Mindsets

Images of Port-City Rotterdam, through the Mental Mapping Methods

This article makes explicit why, at first, we do not usually think beyond water, docks, cargo, moving loads, and ships when we think of port-cities. By reviewing mental maps of port-city Rotterdam drawn by professionals in training, it becomes clear that the adjective ‘port’ modifies the meaning of ‘city’ in such an extent that this echoes in the mind. It does exceptionally when respondents are asked explicitly to draw the ‘port-city’ by mind. Port and city seem to have become conceptual dichotomies. In the case of Rotterdam, the established professional points of views seem to be aligned with this disunion, even though the current trend in practice turns towards a desire to (re)develop the port-city as one. Through similar mental mapping experiments on Rotterdam, yet without adding the label of ‘port-city’ in the question, much richer images of the port-city of Rotterdam are generated. Multi-scalar reviews of such maps help to explicate much more inherited relations between nature and artifice, as well as for example the flows of goods and people. Ultimately, this approach changes the perspectives on the port-city, also for professionals in practice.

Read:
Harteveld, Maurice (2021b) Images of Port-City Rotterdam, through the Mental Mapping Methods. In: Portus, the Online Magazine of RETE (Association for the Collaboration between Ports and Cities), No. 42-2021, Year XXI. RETE Publisher, Venice, ISSN 2282-5789

EN / ES / PT / IT

See also:
Biographies of Places
Port-City Perspectives