“A good city is like a good party — people stay longer than really
necessary, because they are enjoying themselves”
— Jan Gehl
Public space is important to a city since it allows people to come together and engage with the community. As we all know that Covid19 will bring big social consequences, which will radically change the way we occupy these spaces.
Urban spaces will have to readjust themselves according to the new reality. Social interaction will others will change, and we will no longer be able to great each other with a hug or a handshake like we use to. As we can see in the current times that working from home is more trending and attending zoom meets to maintain social distancing is more common than a physical meeting. This will lead to more of a virtual lifestyle as the technology will keep increasing more and more for the comfort and requirement of people.
Before we look into ways the covid19 is going to change the public space we must first take a step back and look at what is public space and what is the factor that makes a space a successful public space.
What is public space?
Public space is a space that is generally open and is accessible to please. Roads, Side pathways, Beaches, Parks, squares, etc are considered as public spaces.
What is the factor that makes a space a successful public space?
- The accessibility of the space – A public space should be accessible to everyone regardless of their caste, gender, social status, etc. This should also include that space should be accessible for disabled people.
- The comfort of space – This is the ability of the people to be themselves in the public space. The joy of going to public space is to be able to be themselves and connect/re-connect with people also be able to be a part of the activities taking place there. one good example where people are comfortable in public space is to be able to connect with the public art/ surrounding. The bean sculpture in Chicago is a good example of being comfortable in public space. Public art tends to create a comfortable space for people to express themselves in a better way and interact with others.
- Creating the public space sociability – It is the interaction people have with other people and make connections with the person along with space. Creating an opportunity for people to interact with the new people adds to the sociability of the space. Hosting music concerts/movie nights in the public space makes space more sociable.
These are three major factors that make a space a public space.
Now that we have a clear view of what is public space and what makes a public space. We can look at how covid19 will shape the public space.
- Placemaking – Bringing them together but keeping them apart – Placemaking is am approach to planning, design as well as management of public space. A big part of urban planning is to consider and manage our way of infectious diseases and pandemic.
- Adaptive to urban changes – Due to covid19 pandemic public transportation, leisure, shops, etc. and public spaces will have to adapt.
- Connecting while maintaining social distancing – The “new normal” will also have a direct effect on the use of urban spaces, in a context where there will be a drastic shift from developing social life outdoors.
The virus changed things overnight. There is not a place that has not been affected by covid19. The same way the future will always keep changing weather we keep the focus on it or not. With that in mind now is the time to focus on the way out public space will change with fewer contact.