With the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, public space was one of the most affected parts of our urban life. With the shut down of shops, parks and other gathering places, public life came to a halt in the past months, leaving scars in our social and economic life. How can we heal as a global community, how do we reorganize our streets, how will we get back to enjoying public spaces, and what do we want our cities to become in the future, so that public space can be at everyone’s disposal while contributing to economic development? How will public spaces in the post COVID-19 phase be adapting between public/community and private/commercial use and interest?
There is no doubt that urban residents who are going to better resist to the consequences of the lockdown are the ones who are living in neighbourhoods with a direct access to services, shops and green areas. The current crisis is showing the urgency of accelerating the implementation of the so-called “15-Minute-City”, a concept recently made famous by the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo during her campaign for municipal elections but well-known to the experts of sustainable urban development and inspired to similar experiences (such as the 20-minute neighbourhoods of Portland or the East London’s Every One Every Day plan) adopted by other cities.
Reducing the access radius to education, culture and leisure, sustainable food and transport facilities should not be just a right of who is living in the city centres, but local authorities and communities need to cooperate to ensure that this kind of accessibility is granted to all the residents.
One of the desirable revolutions which could take place in the next months should be for every city to provide its “15-Minute-Plan” as part of its strategies for recovery and resilience, which needs to be constantly updated according to the evolution of the pandemic in the next months. Collaborating with residents in defining this kind of plans and regularly checking their implementation can be crucial for reviving a community spirit based on the right to an accessible and liveable city.
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