As the Coronavirus causes millions of deaths and societies around the world lock-down for the second time, we find ourself in cities with swept streets, locked shops and cafés and empty public spaces.
In addition to the enormous impact on the economy, the pandemic situation raises questions related to density and societal polarization, that are manifested in the urban fabric and the dynamics of urban transformation.
One might recall the Garden Cities at the beginning of the 20th century propagated by Ebenezer Howard as a reaction to the conditions that Engels described in his social urban study The Condition of the Working Class documenting the social and hygienic conditions in industrial inner cities in England.
After decades of propagating the compact city, high densities, good public transport and walkability as sustainable urban solutions, planners across the world are suddenly faced with tendencies (and discourses) that remind us of a century ago when avant-garde architects and planners called for a Modernist planning.
Cities are increasingly seen as problematic due to high densities in times of social distancing. With the pandemic, demonstrations have been suppressed in public spaces with the argument of putting health first, facilitating new digital public spaces calling for freedom of speech. The crisis has accelerated pressure on the supply chains and mobility has been heavily restricted – even public transport. We have been forced to stay more local in an otherwise globalized world. The lock down has sparked many inspiring initiatives. An example is the expansion of digital neighborhood platforms, that have been seen across Germany. It has, however, also triggered a renewed demand for being self-suppliant in terms of food, especially among the urban elite, and for moving out of the city. What does the pandemic do with us, with society and with the way we use and re-produce spaces in the city? This is one of the core questions our Instagram Platform deals with – “URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND THE PANDEMIC”:
The platform works as a meta level of exchange and learning between two universities, between three groups of students working on these and similar issues and between university and society. Please visit our site on Instagram and let us know what you think, exchange your thoughts, like us and enjoy the innovative contributions on urban development and the pandemic.