Corona and the City

Crises have always led to spatial and structural changes in cities, be it now or in earlier centuries.

Metropolitan regions such as Berlin, London or Rome with a high spatial density and high mobility of the population are particularly hit hard by the current Covid-19 pandemic:

The average living space available per person varies from country to country, but when you imagine that it is in  India 10 square meters and in Italy 31, it seems difficult to imagine living in such cramped areas for weeks.

During the lockdown in spring, many local recreation areas such as city parks, lakes, but also playgrounds and sports facilities were closed, with the result that forests, and open areas were partially overcrowded. In cities such as London or New York, social inequality was even more pronounced when it came to access to local recreation areas, as city parks and green urban areas are primarily located in privileged residential areas and where hardly reachable by foot or bike.

In the past 70 years, a situation as we have now almost worldwide was hardly imaginable – spatial distance and isolation, the loss of tourism and social activities. In addition, the fight against the virus depends heavily on physical distance – a distance that is difficult to achieve in most large cities.

Therefore it is the question which lessons city planners, politicians and architects will draw from the pandemic: How can one develop an urban infrastructure that considers the health and well-being of its residents? How can the desire for recreational space, less overheating and density, also be realized?

Even if these questions are far from being answered and the scientific findings for improving many problem areas of urban density are still far too rarely used for new approaches to urban development, one thing seems certain after the last few months: cities are being developed by people for people and built – which means that the focus should be on humans and their needs and not just building costs and the commercialization of public space.