Reframing the Role of Public Space during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thursday May 7, 4.00 - 5.30 pm CET

Series 1 (May) - Webinar 1

This webinar is part of the initiative '2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic'.
>>> Read the summary of this webinar


Hosts & Moderators

Luisa Bravo, City Space Architecture & The Journal of Public Space, Italy
Hendrik Tieben, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Architecture, Hong Kong

Event managers

Stephanie Cheung & Yin-Fen Chen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong



Jeff Hou, Urban Commons Lab, University of Washington, USA
Setha Low, Public Space Research Group, Center for Human Environments at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, USA
Luis Alfonso Saltos Espinoza, Observatorio Ciudadano por el Derecho a la Ciudad y Espacios Públicos de Guayaquil, Ecuador
Mona Helmy, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, The British University in Egypt (BUE), Egypt


Commentary: Public Space and UN-Habitat’s COVID-19 campaign

Jose Chong, Global Public Space Programme, Planning Finance and Economy Section
Urban Practices Branch, Global Solutions Division
UN-Habitat, United Nations Human Settlements Programme

Round table discussion

  1. What are the key issues for public space under the pandemic and beyond? 

  2. What are the broader, underlying issues beneath the challenges facing public space? 

  3. What roles can public spaces serve in the era of the pandemic and planetary crises?

Q&A Session - engagement with the audience, managed by Yin-Fen Chen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong



>>> Reading materials

Observations of Social Life and Public Space in the Era of Social Distancing from CUNY The Public Space Research Group in New York City.
Messagge from Setha Low, chair of CUNY The Public Space Research Group:

Dear Friends,
In an effort to stay connected and share experiences from around the world, we’re inviting you to send us your observations of public social life in the era of social distancing. While we need to be staying indoors and practicing sheltering-in-place as much as possible, there may be necessary moments when we need to safely venture out for food, supplies, and some basic exercise. Or you may be able to observe public life right outside your window.  Please feel free to reflect upon these moments and share with us what your public realms are like right now.  You can email your writing (no specific length requirements) to or  with “Public Life During Social Distancing” in the subject line and we’ll post them to the our website under a new COVID-news tag we are creating. Each time we post an observation to the website a link to it will be automatically tweeted (@thepsrg) by the PSRG. If you haven’t subscribed to our google group, there is a subscribe link on our website.
We thank you for considering this and hope you are safe and healthy and, when the time is right, able to reunite with your favorite public space. In the meantime, we can engage with each other and public space virtually.

Social Disparities Beyond Social Distancing, by Jeff Hou on Medium (April 1, 2020)
Rethinking the needs of a post-pandemic city, by Jeff Hou on The Seattle Times (May 3, 2020)

UN-Habitat launches COVID-19 Response Plan and Campaign targeting the world’s most vulnerable communities, Press release (April 23, 2020)
UN-Habitat COVID-19 Response Plan



>>> Recorded video of the webinar

All our webinars are recorded and are available on the Youtube channel of our publisher City Space Architecture.
Watch this third one and our future videos on City Space Architecture's Youtube playlist '2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic'.