A weekly review of commentary and perspectives about COVID-19 implications on communities and places.
This week’s topic is density – good or bad? Has density fueled COVID? Two perspectives.
But first, an overview of the impacts on urban planning.
TheCityFix, Urban Development, Rogier van den Berg , April 10, 2020
Five keys ways urban planning will be affected:
- Focus on Access to Core services
- Affordable Housing and Public Spaces
- Integrated Green and Blue Spaces
- Increased City-Regional Planning
- More City-Level, Granular Data
“The impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic are still being understood, but it does seem clear that this crisis will make a mark on cities, physically and socially, that will echo for generations.”
FORTUNE Commentary, Urban Planning – JOEL KOTKIN, April 1, 2020
This opinion piece makes the argument that while density has made urban areas attractive, it also makes them “more dangerous”.
“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic may be too early to measure, but it’s clear that the great preponderance of cases, and deaths, are concentrated—at least as of now—in dense urban centers, most particularly Wuhan, Milan, Seattle, Madrid, and New York City. This crisis is the right moment for the world to reconsider the conventional wisdom that denser cities are better cities.”
New York Times, The Upshot, Emily Badger, March 24, 2020
This opposite commentary argues “The very thing that has made cities vulnerable in a pandemic has protected them in other disasters.” While acknowledging density is a factor in the spread of the virus, density provides…” diverse restaurants, rich cultural institutions, new business ideas — that we can’t enjoy right now. Even more than that, density, in the right conditions, is good for us. It even protects against other kinds of calamities.”
“How, then, do we reconcile the benefits of density for a healthy society with the threat of density in a pandemic? And what happens if we lose sight of those benefits — including the ways they are operating even now — while we are preoccupied by the harm?”
Density is but one of many components of an urban place. COVID-19 has exposed the need for a different approach for better places expressed by TheCityFix commentary: “A more holistic approach to planning that combines gray, green and blue infrastructure supports better health, better water management (flooding contributes to many epidemics and diseases after natural disasters), and climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. Furthermore, larger open spaces within the urban fabric can help cities implement emergency services and evacuation protocols.”
Upcoming posts will provide additional insights and perspectives about other approaches and opportunities resulting from COVID-19.