Design and research topics at the Department of Urban Planning and Design
A few months ago we did not foresee what changes and transformations are ahead of us. One year ago – in the introduction to the Changing Climates thematic program – we wrote this: According to scientific forecasts our world is facing a crisis the likes of which mankind has never seen before, and which will be hard to combat even if we get ready for it. Although we knew that the complex systems around us have more and more uncertainty, we did not know that the “collapse” would arrive so quickly. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic our daily life has been completely transformed, our human relations changed, but our relationship to the built environment and especially to urban public spaces has changed the most radically. Public spaces are becoming deserted and we look for leisure possibilities – out of necessity – more and more in our private spaces. The colorful, densely inhabited inner city areas have lost their attractiveness and a shift towards suburban areas has also started.
But what will happen after COVID-19? Everything will go back to normal or the landscape oriented, more loosely developed edge situations will mainly be favored? Can cities regain their former attractivity? We assume that the attributes aimed at developing resilience and adaptability in our urban infrastructures and networks will have increasing importance. We have to consider such developments which can adapt to and can continue working also in changing circumstances and first of all which can satisfy the needs of the city dwellers. At the same time we do not really know how all that will affect our environment and how that will reshape the developments at the level of our urban communities.
During the next year our main topic will be RECOVERY or restoration, readjustment. We will examine the possibilities of renewing urban and semi-urban areas, putting into focus underused or degraded areas awaiting transformation, while always keeping in mind the challenges of the “new reality”.