How COVID-19 Will Change The Way We Plan Cities

The current novel coronavirus situation has had severe economic ramifications throughout the world. Unemployment rates are up, tourism is close to zero, restaurants have lost their businesses and psychologically, social distancing is affecting many people.

Along with all of this, one change no one interpreted as part of the pandemic are changes in urban landscape. How we plan our cities’ infrastructures and resources depends solely on the way the virus takes shape in the next couple of months, and changes in our living spaces will soon be evident, if not already.

Past epidemics such as the 19th cholera sparked an initiation in modern sanitation systems that we use today. Housing regulations against light and air were introduced to curb the effects of respiratory diseases and social distancing practices were first adopted with the onset of a flu in 1580.

Similarly, digitalization and modern interventionist technologies may be the advocacy we innovate during COVID-19. Through such means, city systems will be researched, planned and developed in new ways – almost eliminating past practices of how we adapted ourselves into our unique environments.

Let’s study how COVID-19 may alter urban planning and newly-developed city system models:

Core Service Domination

The governments’ focus on COVID-19 and measures to curb it has raised eyebrows on healthcare systems in almost every country in the world. Even though countries such as Italy have some of the best healthcare systems compared to other countries, the virus dominated and exhausted their resources.

On the other hand, healthcare systems in poorer nations where resources were already limited to a certain number of people based on affordability, the novel coronavirus showcased the reality in harsh ways to the public.

With the rising numbers and exhaustive healthcare resources, governments ask themselves one thing: Have we become too urban? Questions like these makes locals and ruling bodies realize that the inherent issue lies in the number of people inhabiting a city, percentage of those people who have access to basic resources such as healthcare and most importantly, budget allocation directed mostly towards curbing the virus in a short period.

In this sense, governments who initially sought to spend federal budgets on national security and other resources may feel healthcare is a dire need that requires the most amount of funding. Diversions in core services offered by the government and imposing a priority on a few specific ones showcases how city systems are changing infrastructurally, with a focused mind shift.

Housing Schemes

Although the outdoors has changed drastically with the amount of people present in public spaces maintaining a 2-3 meter distance from each other, a larger change will also be noticed indoors.

City planning depends on sustenance of the population and how many resources such as living spaces, access to water, electricity, gas and proper sanitation they require. In this sense, new housing schemes will permit planning and building a segment of the city that maintains the laws of social distancing, with a focus out of close-compact houses present in low-income neighborhoods.

Modular Homes are a great alternative for current housing infrastructures. These are pre-built houses that are sustainable, renewable and affordable. Compared to traditional forms of construction, modular homes require less space and fast assembling tactics, providing a living space for a whole community in no time. They are more energy efficient as they are built relative to surrounding environments and reduce one’s carbon footprint during construction. 

Public Spaces

Ever since social distancing rules were implemented, people sought to seek the outdoors and interact with nature through various means; many bought the age-old cycling culture back, while others chose to go for long walks, hikes or runs in open areas.

The onset of COVID-19 entails the development of green spaces, perhaps those that are more eco-friendly and green. This means that as people begin to explore nature more, the same will also exploit and pollute it the same way. Green environments include measures of solid waste management, wider walk ways for more distancing and little to no contact among one another.

Furthermore, the same large open spaces would establish the installation of emergency services and protocols for authorities to act efficiently in case of any sort of health situation.

Many cities in the world have already established bike lanes across the city and highways to lead to a ‘green lead recovery’ from COVID-19, and possibly even implementing rules that limited the number of people in one car.

In conclusion, it is not a given that COVID-19 will impact all of these areas. However, noticeable change has been observed in each of these and more is yet to come. As urban planners continue to study the change in landscapes and resource distribution, we hope to have the virus bring innovative and positive changes that are beneficial for the economy and overall global scheme.