Envisioning the Post-Pandemic City

The coronavirus has upended urban life, but it also provides an opportunity to look to new and innovative redesign of cities in the future.

October 11, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


New York City Coronavirus

EQRoy / Shutterstock

"There is a huge, looming, unanswerable question that overshadows our cities, like an elephant squatting in the central square. Will a Covid-19 vaccine or herd immunity return us to 'normal', or will we need to redesign our cities to accommodate a world in which close proximity to other people can kill you?" ask Chris Michael, Lydia McMullan, and Frank Hulley-Jones.

They consider proposals from four architecture firms about how cities might be redesigned in a post-coronavirus world. The ideas include bike superhighways, garden streets, digitally enabled high streets, and multipurpose neighborhoods. Each strategy has its pros and cons, and some ideas are not necessarily new ones.

For example, bike superhighways and garden streets could bring more green and outdoor space to communities, but their feasibility varies and implementation could be challenging. Smart cities and multipurpose neighborhoods offer more efficient use of urban space, but questions remain about issues such as equity, privacy, and the ability to create diverse urban landscapes, say Michael, McMullan, and Hulley-Jones.

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