2020: A Year without Public Space under the Covid-19 Pandemic

Join our brand new initiative!

April 22, 2020
By City Space Architecture

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash.

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Two months ago, on 8-13 February 2020, we participated in the 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi as an exhibitor, and in collaboration with 16 global institutions we promoted the exhibition 'PUBLIC SPACE IS VITAL FOR AN EQUITABLE URBAN FUTURE' - read a full report here.
On April 7, while about 40% of global population was under coronavirus lockdown, we announced our brand new initiative '2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic', that we are jointly developing with The Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Architecture.

The initiative is curated by our Founder and President Luisa Bravo and by our Board Member Hendrik Tieben, Associate Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he is also Associate Director of the School of Architecture and Director of the M.Sc. in Urban Design program, in cooperation with many academic scholars and researchers affiliated to leading Universities and non-profit organizations, including - but not limited to - the A Cidade Precisa de Você (Brazil), Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), 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, University of Thessaly (Greece), I-AUD, Meiji University (Japan), 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), Urban Design | Public Space, Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) (The Netherlands), Urban @ Parsons, The New School (USA), Urban Relational Informatics Lab, The University of Auckland (New Zealand), Urban Commons Lab, University of Washington (USA), Urban Synergies Group (Australia).

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Description of the initiative
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? Public space restrictions will stay in place after recovering from the pandemic?
Is there something we can do now all together?
We, public space scholars and activists, 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 can share experiences from places where the virus had hit earlier or where recovery will start first.

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Follow updates on The Journal of Public Space, on the dedicated webpage.


 

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Program of activities
1. ENGAGEMENT (April 2020 - July 2021): collection of information on a dedicated platform, through surveys and sharing of text, pictures, short videos, local news from different, intergenerational social groups from all geographical areas, regarding the current situation of public space and indoor daily routines from a personal perspective, and its evolution throughout the year;

2. DISCUSSION (May - August 2020): a series of webinars on Zoom with global experts to discuss about the current situation and its consequences, by presenting innovative approaches and creative practices, touching different topics related to public health, social interaction, the use of digital technologies and the future of public space;

3. PUBLICATION (June 2020): a special issue of our 'The Journal of Public Space', the first-ever academic, interdisciplinary, open access journal entirely dedicated to public space. The issue will include articles with perspectives and commentaries from global experts and a portfolio with outcomes of step 1- Engagement and first and more relevant outcomes of step 2 – Discussion. The issue is expected to be published on line at the beginning of June;

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4. FOLLOW-UP LEARNING (May - November 2020): an online course to rethink public space during and after pandemics and a special event to take place in Bologna, Italy, in November 2020.

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5. LONG TERM LEARNING (December 2020 - July 2021): an educational program entirely dedicated to public space, the Public Space Academy - www.publicspaceacademy.org, that will include also contents related to risk management and resilience during public health emergencies. A final workshop, at the end of the programme, is expected to take place in Bologna, Italy, in July 2021.

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Do you want to join our initiative as a public space advisor?
City Space Architecture is interestd to engage academic scholars, professionals, designers, activists, artists, policy makers, city managers and community leaders with a specific background in public space, from multiple topics and perspectives. Read the Call for Advisors on Public Space and submit your application here.
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Do you want to join our initiative as a University/research institution?
Please send us an email at PublicSpace-COVID19@cityspacearchitecture.org.
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Do you want to follow the initiative? 
Please subscribe at this link: http://eepurl.com/gcxcg5

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two Responses to "2020: A Year without Public Space under the Covid-19 Pandemic"


  1. Graeme Hanssen
    Graeme Hanssen on 29-04-’20 19:12

    Public space and lockdown/s seem to be mutually exclusive terms (or even irreconcilable), yet never has the need to been greater for research into how to manage, or even provide, access to public space. It may make isolation and loneliness more tolerable, even though access will be limited. Deserves exploration / research / discussion.

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