Michael West Mehaffy
Tigran Haas
Peter Elmlund


Various commentators have sought to assess the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban form and public space, with predictions ranging from “the end of urban density,” to a new impetus for auto-encapsulated sprawl, to exacerbation of the effects of urban inequality, to an explosion of digital surveillance, to a return to relative normalcy with new protective strategies. Here we tease out a more basic lesson about public space: that it is far from one amorphous thing, but it has both connective and protective characteristics. Its structure has a profound impact upon the life of the city and the health and well-being of its residents. Furthermore, it is up to us, as practitioners at the interface of science and policy, to chart the very real choices emerging for a better generation of public space and urban form.


How to Cite
Mehaffy, M. W., Haas, T. and Elmlund, P. (2020) “What Still Matters in a City: The COVID-19 Pandemic Offers a ‘Teachable Moment’ Illustrating that Public Spaces Must Simultaneously Connect us, and Protect us too”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(3), pp. 31–38. doi: 10.32891/jps.v5i3.1378.
Author Biographies

Michael West Mehaffy, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Centre for the Future of Places

Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D., is an educator, researcher, author, planner, designer and builder, who has held appointments in architecture, planning and philosophy at seven graduate institutions in six countries. He is also on the editorial boards of four international journals of urban planning and design. He has also consulted to many governments, businesses and NGOs, most recently to UN-Habitat in its development of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. He is currently conducting research at the Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He holds a Ph.D. in architecture and urban design from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands.

Tigran Haas, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Centre for the Future of Places

Tiran Haas, BArch/MArch, MSc., Ph.D. (SAR/MSA, UHA/DAZ, APA, CNU, ULI) is the Associate Professor, Reader - Tenured (Docent, Lektor) of Urban Planning + Urban Design, Former Director of Civitas Athenaeum Laboratory (CAL), Current Director of the Centre for the Future of Places (CFP) and the Director of the Graduate Program in Urbanism at the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at KTH. He has studied in the USA, Former Yugoslavia (BiH and Croatia) and Sweden and also done Pot-Doc Fellowships at MIT, Boston, UC Berkeley and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Tigran Haas holds advanced degrees in Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, Environmental Science and Regional Planning. He has written over 50 scholarly articles, 35 Conference Papers, 5 books, 4 Research Anthologies, and has been involved in teaching in International educational programs. Tigran Haas currently supervises five PhD Students as well as five Masters of Science Students.

Peter Elmlund, Ax:son Johnson Foundation

Peter Elmlund is an economist specialized on urban issues. He is since 2002 the Director of the urban program at Ax:son Johnson Foundation in Stockholm. He has in this capacity arranged many international conferences and seminars about urban issues. He was during the years 2012-2016, the director for the Future of Places-project, which was a collaboration between the foundation, UN-Habitat and PPS, New York. Today his program finances a research center around public space at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Center for the Future of Places) where he also is a Guest Researcher in Residence. His program also finances two master programs in urban design (Royal Institute of Technology and School of Architecture in Lund).


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