After Corona

‘The biggest crisis since the Second World War’ the pandemic of the coronavirus was called. The SARS-CoV-2 virus brought the whole world economy to a halt and the news about the latest developments dominated the frontpages, the past one and a half year. The virus was, separate from the world economy, tangible in our own daily life. What we did in and around the house and why we went outside was redefined. In the way our lifestyle changed in the context of leisure, similarly the use of our public space changed. Empty city centres, overcrowded nature reserves and new ways of use of the outdoor space, created a new perspective on public space.

What specific changes took place in the use of public space during the corona pandemic? During the pandemic the definition of ‘too crowded’ has shifted, so that the safety and the capacity of that space comes under pressure. On the other hand, the design of the public space provided a way to contribute to a change of lifestyle. The outdoor space became an ‘alternative’ in this way, for many activities. Parks became more and more popular and people arranged to meet outdoors much more. Besides this change there is an acceleration visible of some developments in the public space, for example using the bike more often and the search for public green spaces. Some of these developments are desired, others are less desired.

What remains of the shifting in use of these spaces after the crisis? Can we, in the context of what is desired, adapt? And how can we learn lessons from this situation for a possible following pandemic? The Province of Zuid-Holland is one of the authorities that can learn lessons from this pandemic regarding to the use of public space, from sidewalk to national park. These lessons do not only relate to this corona pandemic or when this pandemic is over. Precisely the possibility of a following pandemic or a large crisis offers the change for preparation. Periods of crisis ask to act quickly and to be flexible and with that goes a decent preparation. What are the consequences of the pandemic on the use of our public space, how can we hold on to desired changed or stimulate it and what lessons can we learn to create a resilient and healthy public space, to be prepared for a following pandemic? These questions were dealt with in the design research; To a resilient public space - Changes in Zuid-Holland after and during a pandemic

Zuid-holland, design research, public space, urban transformation, landscape design. Commissioned by the Provincial Advisor Spatial Quality Noël van Dooren, Flux landscap architecture, 2021