Honours Programme

How to design post-pandemic public spaces?

The COVID-19 crisis affected the everyday life in our cities in a drastic way: Lockdown and social distancing forced inhabitants and commuters to change their daily routines concerning living, working, and for example shopping, and thus the use of public spaces and amenities. The question is how the current pandemic will affect city life in the mid- and long term and what adjustments will be needed in order to build cities in a more equitable and resilient way.

By matter of course this post-pandemic design will pick up on current socio-economic trends concerning the transformation of cities as the change of residents and ways of living, the change of work and work environments as well as the alterations in commercial and social infrastructures.

The Public Space Group of the Section of Urban Design invited students to join their research on urban morphology and public space in times of COVID-19 to elaborate potential adaptations of the city fabric. Our research on that topic was centred around four main research questions:

  • What effects in public space have been an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • Given current trends, what type of public spaces are conditional in changed living, working and shopping environments and provide enough space for safe gathering and mobility?
  • What design principles and elements in the public space networks are emerging now under the situation induced by the COVID-19 crisis, and are essential in the on-going changes – and vice versa.
  • What adaptation of the urban fabric is desired to address the mid- and long-term challenges?

The result was the Post Pandemic Public Spaces documentary series, dealing with the future of our public spaces and the influence that the pandemic may have had on it. It was produced and filmed by Matt van Kessel, Hanlin Stuer and Olivier Wiegerinck.

Eight engaging interviews with Nathalie de Vries, Ton Venhoeven, Ellen van Bueren, Edzo Bindels, Annemieke Fontein, Lior Steinberg, Linda Zuiderwijk and Co Verdaas, show diverse views on the future of our public spaces.

We encourage you to share and discuss your views on the public space of the future with friends or colleagues. What is your vision for our public spaces of the future?