The pandemic has turned the world outside our doorsteps into a newly formed wilderness. Public spaces are now areas to be ventured into sparingly, except by essential workers, so for most of us our worlds have shrunk to the size of our homes.
Modern cities weren’t designed to cope with life during a pandemic, and this upside-down way of living has turned them into “a disorganised array of disconnected bedrooms and studios”, says Lydia Kallipoliti, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union in New York. This layout might have made sense when cities were internationally connected hubs filled with millions of people working, commuting, sightseeing, drinking, dancing and hugging one another without a second thought. But that world seems a long way off now.
The 21st Century has so far seen Sars, Mers, Ebola, bird flu, swine flu and now Covid-19. If we have indeed entered an era of pandemics, how might we design the cities of tomorrow so that the outdoors doesn’t become a no-go zone, but remains a safe and habitable space?