Public Space under COVID-19

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TU Delft Joins ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’

Social distance dictated by COVID-19 health emergency affects access to public space and with it creating a range of impacts on different levels. While global lockdown is destabilizing economy and challenging country leaders, at the human level the pandemic is generating isolation and loneliness, with a significant raise of helplessness and fear. Everyone is asked to stay home and rearrange daily routines and work activities in indoor domestic spaces, looking at the world from behind a window. People are dying alone, numbers are increasingly high. Outdoor physical activities are no longer allowed. Many governments seem to lack proper strategies to manage the risk of massive contagion. In the Global South the poor living in informal settlements have scarce access to water, washing hands could be dangerously impossible.

What is the future of public space? How can we face this unprecedented emergency and get prepared to its consequences, in specific regard to health disparity? Will public space restrictions stay in place after recovering from the pandemic?
Is there something we can do now all, together? Delft University of Technology, a worldwide recognised leader in the field of urban design and public space, unites with more than twenty universities globally in the ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’ initiative. DDfV researcher Maurice Harteveld explains:

“We observe differences in behaviour in public space under the current circumstances. Differences that relate to different societal and personal priorities based on different social and personal values. Altered patterns in our cities are updating the way human behaviour informs urban design, hence the design of public space, but foremost the emerging differentiation in values effect in the design choices we are making in the near future.”

Together with public space scholars and activists, at Delft, we believe that we can build social and health resilience by establishing an open environment for discussion and learning, while taking advantage of technology and virtual platforms that many can currently access for free. As the pandemic moves across different continents and urban conditions, we join in sharing experiences from places where the virus had hit earlier or where recovery will start first.

Partnership of (alphabetical order)
A Cidade Precisa de Você, Brazil
Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Cluster for Sustainable Cities, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
City Space Architecture, Bologna
co+labo radović, Architecture and Urban Design Laboratory, Keio University, Japan
College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, & Orville Simpson Center for Urban Futures, University of Cincinnati, USA
Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, USA
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, The British University in Egypt (BUE), Egypt
Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly, Greece
Department of International Urbanism, University of Stuttgart, Germany
ETSAB Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain
I-AUD, Meiji University, Japan
Integrated Urbanism & Sustainable Design (IUSD), Cairo Lab, Ain Shams University, Egypt
Observatorio Ciudadano por el Derecho a la Ciudad y Espacios Públicos de Guayaquil, Ecuador
Public Space Research Group, Center for Human Environments at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, USA
QUT Design Lab, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Research LAB for Urban Settlements and Landscapes, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
RMIT University, School of Art, CAST – Contemporary Art and Social Transformation Research Group, Australia
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Architecture, China
Urban @ Parsons, The New School, USA
Urban Commons Lab, University of Washington, USA
Urban Design | Public Space, Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), The Netherlands
Urban Relational Informatics Lab, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Urban Synergies Group, Australia

A collaboration of (alphabetical order)
Luisa Bravo Lance Jay Brown, Davisi Boontharm, Josefine Fokdal, Tigran Haas, Maurice Harteveld, Mona Helmy, Fiona Hillary, Jeff Hou, Kevin Hsu, Timothy Jachna, Min Jay Kang, Merham M. Keleg, Astrid Ley, Setha Low, Michael Mehaffy, Alessandro Melis, Gregor H. Mews, Fabiano Micocci, Maggie McCormick, Manfredo Manfredini, Miquel Marti Casanovas, Vikas Mehta, Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Estanislau Roca, Luis Alfonso Saltos Espinoza, Laura Sobral, Darko Radović, Hendrik Tieben, Vaso Trova, Charles R. Wolfe.

text from Delft Design for Values website

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