How will spaces change? This moment of uncertainty and distancing has prompted us to reflect on our practice and to answer new emerging questions. We need to investigate the role of design in the redefinition of our daily life.
10) Which of the new habits imposed by the quarantine will help us reinventing the new everyday life?
Human relationships have been challenged by physical distancing. These new impositions may become forms of awareness and responsibility, useful to build a new normality. We need to rethink the concept of intensity of the flows, by rediscovering together a soft mobility and an increasingly faster exchange of ideas and emotions, able to adapt to the new rhythms of cities.
9) How can we encourage multidisciplinariry and knowledge sharing?
Widespread creativity will make evolve disciplines and knowledge. It will generate new forms of cultural innovations and development of the community. Through suggesting new perspectives and collaborations with sociologists, anthropologists and local policies we will be able to create new tools to redesign the way we live spaces and to prevent cities from becoming sources of new and continuous contamination.
8) How do we imagine the future surrounded by interconnected objects?
Digital enhancement pushed to extreme forms of control and surveillance such as drones, facial recognition or general geo-location, is a scenario that has to be watched with great caution. Let’s rediscover the open spaces: an interconnected future capable of desynchronize the rhythms of cities, avoid the large flows of commuters and bring value to the airy and green spaces, that will sensitize us on the choices we make towards our environmental responsibility.
7) Can we reinvent digital infrastructure to improve civic and social engagement?
Digital technologies and new media can become sharing platforms for both urban and territorial promotion and development. New forms of cultural, social and local belonging capable of creating the formation of new communities of people. The cities organized in small urban towns are a reasonable choice, capable of reducing density in places of higher aggregation: self-sufficient neighborhoods where citizens will reach essential services within 15 minutes. A “neighborhood city” which will not have to lose the social intensity of exchange that is what the city, as a whole, offers.
6) Which objects and personal devices will be unimaginable to live without?
We need to imagine a near future enhanced by adaptable spaces and places, that can change during the day: flexible furniture, during daylight hours, can allow us to transform a bedroom into a work place and, therefore, beds into tables. The objects that surround us can become solutions that guarantee all citizens to live and move around, without compromising one’s health and that of the community. Objects will be able to transform the current habits influenced by this situation, in a model for which cohabitation, mobility and health play a fundamental role in our lives.
5) How can we redesign the in-between spaces to protect our households?
We can consider the in-between space, among the private sphere and the city flows, as the first line of prevention, that becomes multiple protection on different scales and extensions, of the personal spaces.These living spaces can become more flexible and attentive in order to accommodate different work and leisure needs. We cannot imagine, as an immediate solution, the enlargement of the houses. However, we can imagine, in a short time, to transform and adapt the common areas of the buildings, for example, by encouraging the distribution of diagnostic sanitary facilities, not only on the “neighborhood city” level but also on the apartment buildings level.
4) How can dispersion become a solution for the administration and control of the rhythms of the city?
New spaces for prevention, education, work and supply introduced on a neighborhood scale, will bring an equal accessibility and distribution of services and a decongestioning process of the urban flows. Coordinating the rhythms of offices and schools, will allow us to prevent large commuter flows and, consequently, not overload public transport. The future can welcome a new form of urbanization: the “widespread megalopolis” in which the decentralization of services and the dispersion of flows become added values. Widening this vision, also the territorial dispersion will be an occasion to rethink the urban dimensions. Let’s rediscover a new connection with villages by encouraging a displacement from cities to less densely populated areas, for a continuous search of solutions for the valorisation and safety of the territory and communities.
3) How will the spaces of leisure, services and culture adapt to the new healthcare measures?
Let’s start to bring “outside” what is “inside”: we need to rethink open spaces as a challenge to face new necessities. Every shop and service can be provided with an outdoor space and nature should play a substantial role in the definition of the new urban space. Never before citizens demand an outdoor public life surrounded by nature and activities. Retail, culture, sport and entertainment could increasingly extend on sidewalks, squares and public spaces, reducing car lanes to leave more space to nature inside high-density residential areas.
2) How will the mobility network adapt to new transit and commuting patterns?
The decrease of travel, currently imposed, the dispersion of services and the new rhythms of the city, are the starting point to rethink a new mobility that will have to redesign the balance between infrastructure and public spaces. The opportunity is to accelerate public policies on mobility issues by realizing that cities can be more liveable without the concentration of private cars. We need to promote a soft mobility – electric bikes and electric scooters – by adapting roads to new cycle paths, tree rows and less space for cars, so that may regenerate the structure of the city towards a proper ecological transition.
1) Can this become a fundamental step towards an ecological challenge?
We need to imagine the city of the future, now strongly influenced by the current control and security measures, characterised not only by social distancing and the monopoly of technology, but as a model in which cohabitation, mobility and health play a fundamental role. Stopping the consumption of soil, giving back to the world the wild spaces that remain out of human control, limiting fossil-fuel mobility and focusing on greenery, are just some of the themes to focus on.
We should distance ourselves from the normality we used to have, because it was one of the causes of the current situation: it is the data of fine particles that frightens – increasing the lung fragility of those who live in areas with high density of particulates, easily assimilated to contagion – in addition to the use of private means of transport, of which a strong reduction is necessary. We should resiliently move towards a new post-pandemic era, more ecological and ready to accept new solutions: renewable sources and a new alliance between human and nature. We immediately need to activate as many large public investments in construction including: the monitoring and restoration of all infrastructure, the renovation of public buildings and the building replacement of all energy-deprived, obsolete and degraded structures. Let’s build a new alliance between humans and nature capable of reaching forms of dialogue useful to rediscover an integral ecology.
Project: Stefano Boeri Interiors
Graphic: Stefano Boeri Interiors