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COVID-19 Pandemic: Between Public Space and Users’ Behaviours

Case studies from Egypt, Jordan, and Germany


The current COVID-19 pandemic, which started in China in early 2020 and rapidly spread all over the world, has a considerable impact on people’s daily lives in all its aspects, be it economic, social, and built environment. Countries have implemented different actions and set out various regulations to limit and slow down the outbreak of COVID-19. These governmental regulations ranged between semi and full lockdown as well a curfew was implemented depending on various factors; such as time and the severity of the situation. People have responded differently to those regulations depending on the measures themselves, and their culture. Nonetheless, those governmental regulations have undoubtedly affected public life and public space, residents started reclaiming their public spaces, and they have realized its importance. Some governments responded to their citizens’ behavior, which led to a better public life in the spaces, while in other cases residents have shown a level of awareness and belonging towards public space that encouraged them to initiate movements and campaigns to reclaim their space. This comparative analysis study investigates those different cases in New Cairo, Mansoura, and Hurghada in Egypt, Amman in Jordan, and Berlin in Germany and highlights the relation between the governments’ regulations regarding public space and citizens’ behavior in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows the importance of understanding the behaviors of the citizens by governments to respond accordingly. 

Pages:135 to 166
Section: Society
How to Cite
Elmouelhi, H., Nowar, S., Aziz, H., Abdrabou, N., Gaballah, A. and Khairy, T. (2021) “COVID-19 Pandemic: Between Public Space and Users’ Behaviours”, The Journal of Public Space, 6(1), pp. 135-166. doi:

Author Biographies

Technical University Berlin
Germany Germany

Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi has been a senior researcher at the Habitat Unit, TU Berlin, since September 2014. Hassan studied architecture at Cairo University before pursuing his diploma in Berlin. In 2014, he completed his doctoral degree with a research paper entitled 'Culture and informal urban development. The case of Cairo Ashwa’eyat – informal settlements' at the TU Berlin. 
Hassan Elmouelhi’s research focuses on culture and informal urban settlements, residents’ socio-cultural aspects, patterns of use in urban space, power relations within communities in an informal urban development context.
Supported by BMBF research funding from the (German Egyptian research fund) at the TU Berlin, he is currently a team member in a research project that investigates the priorities of urban development in Cairo’s informal settlements in a range of local initiatives and international cooperation projects.
Hassan Elmouelhi teaches on the international Urban development master’s course (Campus El-Gouna) as well as several master’s courses in Architecture and Urban Design. He has a wide range of experiences from working in ar­chitecture and planning offices with a special focus on the MENA region. He has also experience in conducting fieldwork in different contexts using qualitative research methods.

Jordan Jordan

Sara Nowar is an architect and an urban developer and researcher, who strongly believes in design and planning that cater to human needs and contribute to improving the quality of life. Sara holds a master’s degree in urban development, a professional diploma in social work and refugee studies, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture. After completing her master’s studies and engaging in multiple projects, workshops, and research projects in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Germany Sara aims at utilizing her knowledge and experience in working on and creating inclusive, engaging, and self-sustaining public spaces in Amman.

Technical University of Berlin
Egypt Egypt

Hellen Aziz is a master student at TU Berlin, Urban development department in her last semester and she is currently writing her thesis about the governance of street markets, on the case study of the Egyptian street markets. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Urban Planning from the Faculty of Engineering, Mansoura University, with general cumulative grade excellent, ranked third in her class. She worked as a teaching assistant at the Department of Architectural Engineering, Mansoura University since September 2016 and as a part time junior architect at Mimar Engineering Consultancy, under direct supervision of Prof. Dalila El Kerdany for 2 years till October 2018. She is the author os “Revitalization of historical public gardens through soundscape: The case study of Mansoura zoological garden”, published in “Towards a Better Quality of Life Conference (QOL)”, and co-author of “Not Our Land: an analysis of a socially dysfunctional community in el Fayrouz, Red Sea Region, Egypt” published in REAL CORP conference 2019 in Karlsruhe, Germany. Furthermore, she participated in several international workshops and summer schools such as “The refugee shelter rooftop” in Berlin with collaboration with Cambridge University (August 2019) and “The city as commons” in Pavia, Italy (September 2019). She has been appointed as a member of the youth steering committee of EauMega conference, about the water, the Mega cities and the climate change, which will be hold in December 2021 in Paris, organized by UNESCO.

Egypt Egypt

Nada Abdrabou is an Architect and Urban Researcher, based in Hurghada, Egypt. She received her BARCH from Alexandria University after reading a book on Hassan Fathy's work. Interned for Orascom Engineering in El Gouna during her BARCH, she holds a MSc in Urban Development from the Technical University of Berlin campus El Gouna (2016). During her MSc study, she worked as a part time Architect, interned for the Social City Program in Berlin; which inspired her Thesis on collaborative urban development in the Red Sea Informal Settlements upgrades. Her research included interdisciplinary studies on optimizing the building sector energy through alternative structures in cooperation with energy engineering colleagues. In 2017, she co-founded a non-profit urban initiative focusing on participatory development in the Red Sea and Upper Egypt. After corporate work, she established her Architecture practice in Hurghada. She is currently writing urban and architecture articles in Linesmag, and preparing her PhD in re-defining subjective urban well-being in Egypt, while painting her surroundings on the side.

Technical University of Berlin
Germany Germany

Ahmed Gaballah is a master student at TU Berlin, Urban Development department, where he also works as teaching assistant for third semester batch. He worked as an urban planner in Burohapold Engineering, also as teaching assistant in Mansoura university, Egypt and Arab Academic for marine and science in portsaid, Egypt. He is team member in ESU lab “Egyptian Sustainable Urban lab” based in Cairo and Mansoura, he also worked for a year as an architect and member of team management at the development of Mostafa Kamel zone in Alexandria, Egypt. He has been part of different research projects, such as "Effect of Oyama craft on the urban fabric of Abdel - Rahman Street, Damietta, Egypt", "Rehabilitation of Mahmoud Samy Palace, Mansoura city, Egypt", "Not our land: An Analysis of a socially Dysfunctional community in El Fayrouz, Red Sea Region, Egypt", and "Part of Ideenwerkstatt Vision Museumsquartier, Berlin, Germany". Also participated in different workshops "Urban Mobility Mapping at the Red Sea: Case Study Hurghada", and "Rediscovering Nile Delta, Earth and Reed workshop", Shakhlouba village, Kafr El Sheikh, Egypt.

Ain Shams University
Egypt Egypt

An analytical PhD researcher in the urban and regional planning department at faculty of engineering, Ain Shams University. Project manager, urban researcher & community development specialist with extensive experience working with national and international firms and organizations. Nailed her practice as an architect and researcher with a master of science in community development in 2015. Gained a wide experience in non -profit- projects in various areas and contexts; Led by her passion in participatory planning approach With high skills of contacting with community members, local administrative bodies and analytical capabilities. Extensively experienced working with NGOs for more than 12 years on different community & urban development projects related to upgrading poor urban areas, heritage and conservation, planning for refuges, socio and economic development projects, design for sensitive areas, environmental research, Climate change adaptation initiatives, Education & innovation, trainings and building capacities. Tayseer is highly experienced with project Management and Communication skills for wide variety of projects in different spatial contexts. Social & environmental activist with great leadership skills. As well as being architect with extensive experience in architecture design, interior design and working drawings of different kinds of residential, administrations, services & recreational buildings in Germany, UAE & Egypt.


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