Introduction

Redefining the Role of Urban and Green Spaces Amidst the Pandemic - Sheet1
The Sheep Meadow in Central Park_©Justin Lane

Against the backdrop of the current pandemic landscape, a new concept of public spaces has emerged in the urban landscape of cities across the globe. An image that, despite being so rigorously imposed on the users of these public spaces, has left a question mark in the minds of many. The question is – how are the urban and green spaces being used in this era of unprecedented lockdowns? Do they even have any evident relationship between them as of today? 

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Delving Deeper into the Role of Urban and Green Spaces

Redefining the Role of Urban and Green Spaces Amidst the Pandemic - Sheet2
How the Corona Virus will Reshape Architecture_©Kyle Chayka

It is interesting to note that the urban trend of using green public spaces has significantly changed globally in this COVID stricken time. The conscious effort being put in by the layman to utilize this space as perhaps an escape from being stuck at home is reshaping the entire concept of public spaces and the intensity of their usage. Whether one refers to the green spaces or built spaces such as the corporate or the hospitality sector, with the constant fluctuation of working from home or dining in, the manner of the functionality and durability of these spaces in the pandemic landscape has marginally changed and brought about a transition to the urban landscape of the city. The connecting elements between these two typologies of spaces, whether tangible or intangible, it is interesting to note the silent effort being made to bridge the gap between these two types of spaces. 

Understanding this transition involves firstly understanding the way urban and green spaces have been constructed for the users in the first place and affect their daily lives as social nodes. To decipher how these spaces have almost inadvertently changed themselves due to intangible factors is a good place to start. The concept of social distancing as the dominant intangible factor has phenomenally changed the functionality of public spaces ultimately altering the quality and quantity of urban life. The public spaces did have a resounding presence before the arrival of COVID and the 2-meter hiatus, however, in the current pandemic landscape, the commodified use of these spaces has also marginally increased. Green spaces too have given a rise to the influx of commercial small-scale activities that resonate around them. Whether it is a simple walk in the park or even a monthly cycling event, it is inevitable to not come across throngs of people that perhaps would not have used these ‘pseudo-public spaces” before COVID announced its untimely arrival. It can be argued that these civic spaces have almost subconsciously responded to the situation in a plausible manner to ensure vulnerable communities receive the necessary support in this time of financial uncertainty. However, it must be reiterated that rethinking how public spaces are being used and have been reshaping the urban landscape as a global phenomenon needs to be given due diligence. 

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Rethinking the Process? 

Redefining the Role of Urban and Green Spaces Amidst the Pandemic - Sheet3
Domino Park _©Noam Gallai_Getty Images

This rethinking process can potentially be designers and architects coming together to coherently produce solutions that can aid in the smooth functioning of public spaces that are in a way user definitive. These spaces during the prevalent pandemic landscape can provide the users with a platform that serves not only as a ‘third space’ for them to relax in or respond to in their own fashion, but also provide a profitable space for the ever-growing street-food culture of the city. This serves as an integral means of bridging the gap between the urban and green spaces situated within a city and enhancing their true purpose with a new user-definitive one. 

To say that the essence of space has changed considerably over the past year across the globe would be vague. The communal aspect of these spaces that were previously being withheld due to considerable cultural nuances has not only changed in terms of equitable access for people coming from various socio-economic backgrounds but has virally increased the public’s paradoxical reliance on virtual spaces being translated as green spaces during the pandemic. 

Living with the Change.

During this time, we as passengers of the covid-wave have witnessed a massive change in the way people utilize public spaces. It is perhaps for the first time amidst the pandemic landscape that the urban-cultural context defined by these public spaces have become user defined spaces. The entire essence of green public spaces has changed during this time as people feel less bound by spatial drawbacks to fully gauge these spaces. The public almost has implemented their intangible ideology of how to use a public space with commercial aspects to give the user a diverse diaspora of space and perhaps, even people. 

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It is almost as though the current urban context of the city is thriving on the people finding opportunities in all types of constraints thereby giving the city a new urban image. This constant strife to understand urban and green spaces and possibly innovatively use them during these uncertain times has perhaps also given a new perspective towards bridging the silent gap that exists between them. 

Author

Sidra is an aspiring architect who is deeply fascinated by the influence of architectural writing on the designing capabilities of future architects within the creative industry. She has a particular interest in Landscape Architecture and seeks to investigate its remarkable potential within her motherland- Pakistan.

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