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Opportunity in the Time of COVID-19

Learning Lessons to Improve Public Spaces

Abstract

To face the COVID19 pandemic, cities have taken short term actions. Streets have been closed to traffic during weekends to enable temporary playgrounds or car lanes have been transformed into bike lanes or used to enlarge sidewalks following tactical urbanism practices. Time has appeared as a main factor in the management of public space (defining timeslots to exit to the street or trying to avoid peak hours in public transportation by extending the starting and ending working times). Technologies have been key, enabling online work, virtual gatherings and creative activities, as well as developing applications for better tracing the disease or enforcing the lockdown regulations. But what will be the lasting effects of these measures in the long-term transformations of cities?

This commentary was written in May 2020, in the middle of a total lockdown in Barcelona. It is based on the events, reflections and public opinion reactions at this precise moment in this particular place. It argues that the urban adaptations to the COVID19 could be an opportunity to adjust, strengthen and accelerate some ongoing urban strategies: the transition towards a more sustainable mobility and a greener city; the development of neighbourhood life; the application of technologies in urban planning and management, community based initiatives and everyday public space experiences. 

Published:
Pages:23 to 30
Section: Space
How to Cite
Marti, M. and Espindola, L. (2020) “Opportunity in the Time of COVID-19”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(3), pp. 23-30. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i3.1373.

Author Biographies

Miquel Martí Casanovas is PhD in Urbanism and assistant professor at the Department of Urbanism and Regional Planning of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia since 2001. Civil Engineer by the Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon and Master in Political Sciences at the Institute of Political Studies of Paris, his field of research is the contemporary public space (from its design to the experiences it generates, through the policies transforming it). Expert in the evolution of public space in Barcelona, he has extended the scope of his research in this field to several European cities, as well as to some American and Asian experiences. He collaborates regularly with other Universities in these three continents through research stays and joint projects. In the last years he has focused his scholar interests on sustainable mobility strategies and their relationship with a qualified, livable and healthy public space. He is member of CARNET (Cooperative Automotive Research Network), a multidisciplinary platform aimed at the study and promotion of a sustainable urban mobility. Researcher at the Forest Science and Technology Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), he studies and promotes the development of biocities, through public spaces considered as green infrastructures providing ecosystemic services.

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Spain Spain

Lara Espindola is a PhD candidate in Urbanism at the Polytechnic University of Catalunya (UPC), she holds a Master in Urbanism and Urban and Architectonic Management and Valuation by this same University. She graduated in architecture at the University of Buenos Aires. Her research focus on sustainable urban mobility and urban adaptations to climate change. She has experience in the design and building of public educational facilities. 

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ISSN 2206-9658