GEOG/GD 464 Student Summer 2020

The pandemic will have an impact on the city’s future planning.

During COVID-19, many cities exposed design shortcomings. Some basic functions of the city cannot function properly during the pandemic, which has caused many countries and regions to reconsider the design and operation of the city. Of course, the pandemic also prompted the government to take some temporary measures, such as increasing bicycle lanes, setting social distances, and canceling pedestrian crossing buttons. These interim measures obviously have caused some changes in urban design. Also, some governments are considering whether these measures can be set as new standards. This blog will discuss the impact of the pandemic on current and future urban design.

During the pandemic

Text Box: Credit: miss3/Hua Hua Architects. CNN’s report “Our cities may never look the same again after the pandemic” discusses the impact of pandemics on cities,” With Covid-19 lockdowns vastly reducing the use of roads and public transit systems, city authorities – from Liverpool to Lima – are taking advantage by closing streets to cars, opening others to bicycles and widening sidewalks to help residents maintain the six-foot distancing recommended by global health authorities.” (Oscar Holland, CNN, 2020). From CNN’s report, we can learn about the streets to cities and communities Importance. The street is our most important public space in daily life, it is very important. At the same time, it is also the part of a city that needs to make the most changes in a pandemic. In order to avoid infection, people must maintain social distance, so the design of the street is very important during the pandemic. Many cities have made changes on the streets, such as removing sidewalk buttons, separating areas with lines to maintain distance, and installing partitions on benches. The CNN report mentioned the concept of “six feet” to ensure that people have a certain social distance. Many countries also use it as a regulation during the pandemic. Closing some streets to provide more bicycle lanes is also a good measure. It allows people to avoid crowded traffic such as subways and buses, thereby reducing the risk of infection. These regulations are likely to continue after the pandemic. We can see that these are effective and good measures. Even if it is not during a pandemic, these measures will bring great convenience to our lives. However, before the pandemic, people did not expect to change. There is no doubt that the pandemic promoted the development of urban design.

City future

Text Box: Police officers march through a street in Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, after a nationwide lockdown in India to slow the spread of COVID-19 is extended, during the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Mumbai, India, April 11, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Francis MascarenhasAlthough this pandemic is not over yet, we can already sum up some experiences. In this pandemic, the biggest problem is the density of cities. Although there are some problems with the public health system, the origin of those problems is still urban density. As Hussain Indorewala and Shweta Wagh mentioned in “After the Pandemic, Will We Rethink How We Plan Our Cities?”, “A city’s ability to limit the scale and severity of a crisis and disaster ultimately depends on extent of popular control over decision making, the level of social equity, the quality of our public infrastructure, and the responsiveness of our planning system. Our cities are vulnerable, because we have weakened their ability to anticipate, prepare and respond to crises. They are vulnerable, not because they have high aggregate densities, but because they are highly unequal in terms of living conditions, services, incomes and access. They are vulnerable, because we have prioritized luxury mobility over livelihoods, real-estate mega-projects over ecosystem services, monetizing land over community services.” (Wagh, 2020) The high density of cities has caused many problems. For example, the streets are not wide enough to ensure social distance, and the per capita medical resources are insufficient. There are no medical resources to deal with the advent of the pandemic. City density is a factor that must be considered in urban design, but no one can be completely sure of the city’s development trajectory. Therefore, we need to constantly check and update our design. We can let the residents of the city participate in urban design for better solving the existing problems.

In general, a pandemic was a disaster. But for urban design, it is an opportunity for reflection. The pandemic will promote urban development. We may not be able to foresee the next disaster, but we cannot allow the outdated urban design to affect our destiny.


Oscar Holland, CNN. (2020, May 9). Our cities may never look the same again after the pandemic. Retrieved from CNN:

Wagh, H. I. (2020, April 30). After the Pandemic, Will We Rethink How We Plan Our Cities? Retrieved from The Wire:

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