Our changing cities - rethinking urban space

10 min read

This year has been unlike any other. Almost every aspect of our lives has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. With the promise of a vaccine comes the potential of a return to normal – but what will our ‘new normal’ be? 

‘Shaping our post-Covid world’ is a new series of reports from Mace that explores the changes caused by the pandemic to the built environment, construction and infrastructure sectors. We consider what those changes will mean for how we live in the future – from how we design our homes to how we deliver healthcare across the world – and suggest new policies and approaches to ensure we don’t miss an opportunity to change the world for the better. 

Our global cities perhaps saw a greater visible impact from the coronavirus pandemic than anywhere else, as busy streets and squares fell silent for much of 2020. 2021 promises a fresh start and a return to some kind of normality – but many things will never be the same again. 

We’ve seen urban spaces, and the behaviours within them, completely change as society has adapted to the needs of a socially distanced world. There are some real success stories emerging, with pedestrianisation of roads and acquisition of footways to make way for al fresco dining revitalising some urban centres as they emerged from lockdown. The hospitality sector has, by and large, responded well to the opportunity, purchasing the equipment needed to facilitate comfortable and safe outdoor dining.

What’s more, when we enter into the coveted post-Covid world, these possibilities will remain and offer an additional layer of opportunity on top of what was previously considered business as usual. With hopes for an effective vaccine in the coming months looking promising, our appetite for socialising and access to the best social venues and eateries may return sooner than we expect. It is the towns and cities across the world that will offer all of that and more and, without becoming complacent and only when it is truly safe to do so, must prepare for their busiest period ever.

Our first paper in our new series explores what the future may hold for our cities. We consider how urban spaces need to respond to the shifting requirements of society, offering a set of recommendations influenced by the lessons learned during the pandemic.

Download our latest report to find out more.