Learning from lockdown: Placemaking in a post-covid-19 world

Vinita Dhume

Temporary measures to improve public spaces during the pandemic should continue once lockdown is lifted, argues Vinita Dhume

Covid-19 has caused much upheaval in our society. With the ongoing fight against the virus, many more will lose loved ones, jobs and livelihoods. Despite these catastrophes, the pandemic has brought substantial positives which could have far-reaching, long-term benefits.

Today our usually vibrant cities are not so vibrant – lacking the chaos and mix of activities. Imagine our cities with empty spaces permanently damaged by the ravages of the disease – much like the eerie visuals in Living in a Ghost Town, the latest single by the Rolling Stones.

Working from home will continue to be the new normal for many – with depression and anxiety increasing among more homebound people. To combat isolation, our neighbourhoods will need to work harder to make simple daily activities such as a walk to the park or running errands pleasurable and safe.

New patterns of use are emerging within the public realm. It is heartening to see colourful chalk drawings in spaces where children have played over long afternoons; people forming awkward queues outside supermarkets on narrow footpaths; friends meeting on street corners with beer in hand, maintaining social distancing; and streets colonised by people in creative ways to share home-made food, plant cuttings and books.

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