How the Post-Pandemic Future Could Resemble the Pre-Pandemic Future

Response to coronavirus challenges in urban settings will likely be a continuity of work started decades ago.

1 minute read

April 16, 2020, 12:00 PM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery

NYC from Hoboken

r0sss / flickr

Widespread fears about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on privacy and densification paint a picture of a frightening urban future. Contrarily, Ian Klaus shows a hopeful "radical vision of hope: As lifestyle and consumption habits have transformed overnight and governments have committed trillions of dollars of investment in national economies, perhaps the challenges of overcoming the coronavirus pandemic might ultimately foster a more equitable, sustainable urban future."

Klaus outlines five ongoing developments that could shape the cities post-pandemic: 

  1. Affordable housing and accessible design will be celebrated as architects and urban designers continue to present innovative solutions to social issues around housing. 
  2. The development of new building materials (think ultra-strong timber towers and biophilic design) promotes sustainability.
  3. Local leaders realizing the power to respond to challenges in transportation and housing. 
  4. Networks of cities participating in collective action will continue to organize, elevating urban concerns to the global stage.
  5. Increased attention is paid to cities in the Global South. The resiliency of informal housing will inform future adaptation. 

Studying the successes of recent history offers opportunities to identify the work that must continue and that will define wins in the future. Looking toward the challenges faced by urbanists in the post-coronavirus future Klaus adds, "We all already know much of what we will find and have to work with on the other side."

Monday, April 6, 2020 in CityLab

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