School of Architecture, CUHK

2020: A Year Without Public Space Under the COVID-19 Pandemic

Date & Time


Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

The social distance dictated by the COVID-19 public health emergency has created a range of impacts on different levels. While global lockdown is challenging world leaders with a destabilising economy, at the human level the pandemic is affecting access to public space, generating isolation and loneliness, helplessness and fear.

What is the future of public space under COVID-19? How can we get prepared to its consequences, in specific regard to health disparity? Will restrictions on public space stay in place after recovery from the pandemic? Is there anything we can do now?

Curated by Prof. Hendrik Tieben and Prof. Luisa Bravo (City Space Architecture), this joint initiative with the The Journal of Public Space and a number of international organisations and scholars reflects on COVID-19’s different impacts on public space, people’s health and wellbeing, as well as how we can build social and health resilience by establishing an open environment for discussion, with the help of digital technologies and through virtual platforms that can be accessed for free.


Programme of Activities

1. ENGAGEMENT (April 2020 – July 2021): Collection of information through surveys and sharing of texts, pictures, short videos, local news from different and intergenerational social groups from across geographical areas, regarding the current situation of public space and indoor daily routines from a personal perspective, and its evolution throughout the year.

2. DISCUSSION (May – August 2020): A series of Zoom webinars hosted by CUHK with global experts to discuss the current situation and its consequences, as well as different topics related to public health, social interaction and the future of public space by presenting innovative approaches and creative practices.

3. PUBLICATION (June 2020): A special issue of The Journal of Public Space featuring articles with perspectives and commentaries from global experts (call for papers) and a portfolio with outcomes of 1. ENGAGEMENT and 2. DISCUSSION.

4. FOLLOW-UP LEARNING (May – November 2020): An online course to rethink public space during and after pandemics and a special event expected to take place in Bologna, Italy, in November 2020 (TBC).

5. LONG TERM LEARNING (December 2020 – July 2021): The Public Space Academy, an educational programme entirely dedicated to public space, will include contents related to risk management and resilience during public health emergencies. A final workshop at the end of the programme is expected to take place in Bologna, Italy, in July 2021 (TBC).

Follow and subscribe to the activities:

Online Survey on experience in public space under COVID-19

Partners and Collaborators

A Cidade Precisa de Você, Brazil
Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
, Sweden
co+labo radović, Architecture and Urban Design Laboratory, Keio University, Japan
College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, & Orville Simpson Center for Urban Futures, University of Cincinnati, USA
Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, USA
Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly, Greece
ETSAB Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain
I-AUD, Meiji University, Japan
Observatorio Ciudadano por el Derecho a la Ciudad y Espacios Públicos de Guayaquil, Ecuador

Public Space Research Group
, Center for Human Environments at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, USA
QUT Design Lab, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Research LAB for Urban Settlements and Landscapes, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
RMIT University, School of Art, CAST – Contemporary Art and Social Transformation Research Group, Australia
The British University in Egypt (BUE), Egypt
Urban @ Parsons, The New School, USA
Urban Commons Lab, University of Washington, USA
Urban Design | Public Space, Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), The Netherlands
Urban Relational Informatics Lab, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Urban Synergies Group, Australia

Individual academics and activists: Lance Jay Brown, Davisi Boontharm, Josefine Fokdal, Tigran Haas, Maurice Harteveld, Mona Helmy, Fiona Hillary, Jeff Hou, Kevin Hsu, Timothy Jachna, Min Jay Kang, Astrid Ley, Setha Low, Michael Mehaffy, Gregor H. Mews, Fabiano Micocci, Maggie McCormick, Manfredo Manfredini, Miquel Marti Casanovas, Vikas Mehta, Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Estanislau Roca, Luis Alfonso Saltos Espinoza, Laura Sobral, Darko Radović, Vaso Trova, and Charles R. Wolfe.

“2020: A Year Without Public Space Under the COVID-19 Pandemic” is co-funded by the RGC Fund Project, “Built Environment and Planning for Healthy Cities”, School of Architecture, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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