Architects and Designers Explore Urban Pandemics

Viral pandemics can devastate cities. In this review of pandemics of the past and present, this piece from <em>Places</em> suggests that urban design can play a much more important role in public health and pandemic prevention.
October 19, 2010, 8am PDT | Lynn Vande Stouwe
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Write Thomas Fisher asks what it means to design cities with viruses in mind, and suggests that we think about viruses and pandemics in cities the same way we think about viruses in our computers.

"A computer virus can cripple hardware and subvert software, preventing us from working or communicating. To avoid this, we have at least three options. First, we can go to the source of the virus and try to stop its spread; second, we can erect digital firewalls and install virus-detection software to halt its arrival; and third, we can try to prevent infection by distancing ourselves from it and not opening attachments. While such efforts rarely ensure complete protection, they do reduce the likelihood of a virus crippling your computer. And they suggest techniques for how we might design our cities to respond to viral diseases let loose around the globe."

"...Approaching architecture and urban design with pandemics in mind will make our cities healthier and more sustainable. Moving bits rather than bodies, increasing the mix of uses in local communities, and reducing the degree of contact we have in the physical environment - all this will not only increase our chances of surviving a pandemic, but also decrease our ecological footprint."

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Published on Monday, October 18, 2010 in Places
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