Special Panel B (SPb)

Built-environment in the post pandemic era – revisiting the planning doctrines

Kh Md Nahiduzzaman, Ph.D., The University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan

[email protected]

With the current effects of the global pandemic COVID-19, the community and home-based private spaces are experiencing a rapid transformation. Such dynamic is an immediate response to the unprecedented situation while it could be an indicative pathway where the urban space could transform into the future. Home-based offices become a common feature in the global pandemic. This has turned home into a mixed-use “semi-private” space with home schooling provision for the kids. The house-based “semi-public” spaces e.g. back and front yards become the center foci for daily amenities and safe interaction between the immediate neighbors. As such, this is a manifestation of transformational use of spaces that could be understood as an “immediate” resilience and “adaptation” to the ongoing pandemic. However, such “semi-public” spaces remain to be available only in the common areas of the apartment buildings that make it difficult for the tenants to avoid close and maintain a safe (physical) interaction. In high-density community spaces e.g. neighborhood parks, it is also critically challenging to maintain a required (i.e. 2 meters) physical distancing. At a larger scale, the urban public spaces, including regional parks, recreation facilities, and playgrounds are under excruciating challenge. The underlying assumptions of (i) greater cohesion and (ii) physical interaction are under question because of COVID-19 posed restrictions. This is more so when there exists a pervasive sense of resilient and inclusive community advocating for an interactive and high density mixed-use built environment, current status quo of COVID-19 demands somewhat the opposite.

While the global climate change continues to present a greater transformation dynamic, emergence of COVID-19 poses a sheer challenge on the development of the built environment. Therefore, time has never been so critical to reflect upon the possible avenues in which contemporary planning and design principles of the built environment needs a complicated shift. Therefore, fundamentals around land use regulations and inclusive community, planning provision for basic infrastructure and amenities, and design principles for community and private spaces should be thoughtfully re-evaluated through the lens of “resilience” against a “new” normal or “new” future.
The current unprecedented composite of global pandemic(s) and climate challenges leads to a reconfiguration of “transformational” status quo. Whilst the full ramifications of COVID-19 pandemic remain unclear, this session aspires to ignite a discussion and capture insightful reflections on (i) contemporary and (ii) “future” (new normal) fronts. This would pave out an essential foundation for possible transformation that the existing built environment needs to undergo in order to make the cities truly livable, healthy and resilient in the post pandemic era.