Nicholas Stevens
Silvia Tavares


This paper offers a Human Factors and Ergonomic & Sociotechnical Systems (HFE & STS) methodology to assist in the exploration and description of COVID-19 lockdown impacts on public spaces in Queensland, Australia. The approach utilises an existing - before COVID - systems model of an archetype public space to identify activities that were restricted in public space, and how such restrictions affect system performance. First an overview of the HFE & STS system modelling approach, Cognitive Work Analysis, is provided and we present the systems model of an archetype public space. Next, the range of lockdown restrictions on public space activity are identified in the model and the system's implications on community and individual wellbeing are explored. In conclusion, the necessity for new activities and functions of public space, post COVID-19, are reflected upon and considered from a systems standpoint.


How to Cite
Stevens, N. and Tavares, S. (2020) “Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 Lock-down on Public Spaces through a Systems Modelling Approach”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(3), pp. 191–206. doi: 10.32891/jps.v5i3.1377.
Author Biographies

Nicholas Stevens, University of the Sunshine Coast, Urban Design & Town Planning Program

Dr Nicholas Stevens is a Landscape Architect and Urban Planner. He is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where he leads the Land Use Planning and Urban Design Research Theme. His recent research explores the concept of Sociotechnical Urbanism and the application of Ergonomics and Human Factors methods to the perennial and emerging challenges of our cities and towns. Nicholas has also published widely in the areas of airport and regional land use development, transport infrastructure safety and design, and city and urban development. He has significant experience in collaborative research projects with Australian local, state and federal governments, private enterprise, and national and international research institutions.

Silvia Tavares, University of the Sunshine Coast, Urban Design & Town Planning Program

Dr Silvia Tavares is an urban designer with a background in architecture, urbanism, and building and city science (affiliate member of PIA and registered architect and urbanist in Brazil). She is interested in the production of high-quality well-designed public spaces which enhance the quality of life of the people using them. Her research focuses on providing evidence to produce public open spaces that are thermally comfortable and promote the good health of users and the natural environments that surround them. Her main focus is, therefore, designing for urban thermal comfort and urban microclimates, the relationship between urban microclimates and people’s health, and the impacts of climate change on them all. 
She has extensive teaching experience both in studio-based and theory-based subjects in architecture, urban planning, urban design, building and city science and landscape architecture. She is interested in exploring new technologies for effective and efficient teaching and learning of design methods and techniques. She also strives to encourage students’ critical thinking and support them in developing as future professionals.
Before joining the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, she worked at James Cook University (Australia), Lincoln University (New Zealand), as a visiting researcher at the ILS (Institut für Landes- und Stadtentwicklungsforschung gGmbH) (Germany), and at the UFT (Universidade Federal do Tocantins, Brazil). She has work experience as an architect in Rio Grande do Sul State, in the south of Brazil, where she also undertook her BArch and MSc.


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