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Shifting the Threshold of Public Space in UK, Algeria and Mexico during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Abstract

Through its worldwide impact, the on-going Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally affected the way people live and experience the built environment in every country. Starting to spread in late January 2020 in Europe and in the Mediterranean Region, the threat of viral infection with the Coronavirus led to several phases of lockdowns from mid-March on until now. The limited accessibility and the safety measures during this last year have challenged dramatically the perception and the use of public space thresholds between private, semi-private and public conditions, creating new forms of temporary appropriation. The consequential paradigms of household isolation and social distancing have also contributed to the augmentation of the public space, now swinging between digital and analogue possibilities. In opposition to the former wide range of possibilities of space uses in everyday life, being subject to restricted spatial conditions under the current situation leads to new challenges on a cognitive level: the resulting change in the perception of proximity and distance, indoor and outdoor, private and public, implies an expanded use of both spaces introducing many opportunities of colonisation of private, public and semi-public appropriation creating new forms (and sometimes also old ones) of resilience. Algiers, Portsmouth and San Francisco de Campeche have been selected as case studies to observe how the lockdown was organised from the same time on in different places with distinct political approaches and public control measures, and the impact this had on the community and the use of public space in the three cities.

Published:
Pages:159 to 172
Section: Society
How to Cite
Melis, B., Lara Hernandez, J. A., Khemri, Y. and Melis, A. (2020) “Shifting the Threshold of Public Space in UK, Algeria and Mexico during the COVID-19 Pandemic”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(3), pp. 159-172. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i3.1387.

Author Biographies

University of Portsmouth
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Barbora Melis (Foerster) graduated in Urban Planning in 2010 at the Technische Universitaet in Berlin, after a period of study at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice. Barbora has decades of experience in urban planning at an international level, both on behalf of public bodies, such as the Veneto Region, and in the profession, in Italy, Germany, New Zealand and England with collaborations with studios such as Cappochin (Padua), P4 and HCB (Berlin) and Foreman Homes (Southampton). Barbora mainly deals with teaching and research activities, at the University of Portsmouth (UK), on the themes of inclusiveness and diversity as tools of urban resilience, in particular on the female perspective in city planning. Barbora is currently doing her PhD research.

Universidad Marista
Mexico Mexico

Antonio is a senior lecturer in architecture at the Universidad Marista. He is the head of department of urban resilience research at the Institute of Mobility and Urban Territorial Development in Yucatan, Mexico. Additionally, he is the director of Heliopolis 21 (Mexico). He has more than ten years’ experience as a registered architect and urban designer and a chartered member of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Merida (Mexico). In addition, he was a co-founder of the IMPLAN-Merida (Municipal Institute of Urban Planning in Merida City). His research and professional experience include works in Mexico, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He focuses on research topics related to urban informality, studies on urban sustainability, resilience and recently about transdisciplinary research such as architectural exaptation. Antonio is a member of the curatorial team of the Italian Pavilion of the Architecture Biennale 2021 lead by Prof Alessandro Melis. He is also collaborating at the Research Centre for Sustainable Cities in Campeche (Mexico) and the Cluster of Sustainable Cities in the University of Portsmouth (UK). Antonio has published several papers, book chapters and books, including his recent book Temporary Appropriation in Cities (Springer).

University of Portsmouth
United Kingdom United Kingdom

M. Yazid Khemri holds a PhD in Architecture conferred by the University of Portsmouth. He also holds an Architect diploma (University of Blida, Algeria), and a Master of Science in Architecture and Sustainable Environment (University of Kent, UK). He has both professional and academic experiences, and he is currently working as an architecture tutor at the University of Portsmouth. His research interests are in the fields of urban sustainability and community resilience. Currently, he focuses on topics related to the concept of sustainable neighbourhood with particular interest on topics of social use of space, urban informality and urban resilience. Yazid is a member of many research groups at the university of Portsmouth and he is a collaborator for the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale (2021).

University of Portsmouth
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Dr. Alessandro Melis, RIBA ARB AOU, is a full professor at the University of Portsmouth and the Director of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities in the UK. In 2019, he was appointed by the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage (MIBAC) as the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Biennale of Architecture in Venice 2021, and in 2020 Ambassador of Italian Design on behalf of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Previously, at the University of Auckland, he was the head of the technology area and director of postgraduate engagement at the School of Architecture and Planning. In the period 2010-2013 he has been the Director of Urban City Lab at the Institute of Architecture of the university of Applied Arts Vienna (Die Angewandte, Vienna) and visiting professor at the Foster Foundation, and in Germany (Anhalt University, Dessau). He has been an honorary fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture. He has also been invited as a to speak at the China Academy of Art, the University of Cambridge, the MoMA New York, TED, the Italian Institute of Culture in London, and the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

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