Urban planning has to deal with a dilemma: on one hand, densification is seen as essential to improve environmental sustainability (e.g. more energy efficient) and on the other, disaggregation is one of the keys to holding back infection transmission.
About 60% of human diseases are zoonotic, including COVID-19, and infectious diseases thrive in urban slums where overcrowding and substandard housing is normality.
In recent years, cities in the global south have started to grow inwards, whereas northern cities follow the opposite trend, taking advantage of remote working capabilities, moving to smaller towns and settlements, with increased quality of life. This northern trend could potentially increase due to this current coronavirus outbreak, as people are being asked to ‘work from home’.
To add to the problem, density is requirement for effective urban service provisions. Lack of access to essential services as water, housing and health care are further exposed during times of natural disasters or pandemics - poor access can make lockdown orders harder to comply with in some cases.
Population density without adequate public spaces or proper affordable housing provision can lead to additional problems. One of the few places that have seen an increase in visits during lockdowns are urban greenspaces.
How can city planning move to a new paradigm of more open green spaces? How can a more holistic approach to urban planning lead to better health, water management, and climate adaptation and mitigation strategies?
These are just some of the possible topics your team might find solutions for, but the scope is much wider.
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