What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About Transforming Cities

Álvaro Cuéllar Jaramillo

Originally published in The Conversation España.

In the face of debilitated environmental health, worsened by the spiralling climate crisis and an unsettling production, energy and consumption system, the current health crisis adds another strike to this growing tally.

In the Mediterranean urban model, dense and compact, these problems are exacerbated due to a lack of open space. Compared with garden cities, the difficulties in guaranteeing social distancing and avoiding contagion become all too evident.

This model falls short when it comes to generating more green spaces that help reduce pollution; it also fails to offer alternatives that help compensate the psychological consequences of a city under lockdown, and nor does it facilitate the creation of urban allotments and other spaces reserved for inner-city food production.

Nonetheless, the current pandemic could serve as a catalyst for a new generation of urban transformations that complement existing ideas, such as the composition of ‘superblocks’ or low-emission zones.

These are very useful strategies for helping to offer healthy spaces and thus improving the urban habitat. Even so, it may be easier said than done due to the arduous planning and management process required.

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This article has been written in collaboration with architect Anna Gutiérrez Merín, from Under Project Lab.

Translated by Jennifer Ellen Drinkwater.