Transforming Urban Space part I
Pandemic Urbanism

Organizers

  • Jonny Aspen, AHO
  • Lisbeth Iversen, AHO

Call for abstracts

This subpanel is part of the four-part session “Transforming Urban Space: Design, Democracy, Dwelling and Pandemic urbanism”. The four-part session argues that attending to the multiple social and ecologically crises the earth is currently facing requires different kinds of relationships between citizens and the spaces we design, construct and inhabit.

This concern is addressed in four subpanels: design, democracy, dwelling and last, but not least, the impact of covid-19 on how we plan and inhabit public space.

This subpanel focuses on the question of pandemic urbanism.

During the Covid-19 pandemic urban space has gained both increased and decreased importance. Work, learning, shopping and social interaction has to a large extent moved online, leaving streetscapes and public spaces empty and desolate. Social distancing has deprived urban life of its most characteristic features of dense social interaction. Even so, quite many public spaces have also been put into more extensive use.

Lockdowns of various shape have turned many residential areas and public spaces into laboratories of urban conduct, inspiring more varied and partly new patterns of use. In the age of pandemic urbanism, public spaces are put in to use both in more instrumental and creative ways, thus making them more dynamic and changing, and also more concrete and visible, than before. In this panel we ask what impacts the Covid-19 pandemic has had for cities and urban living, as well as for how we see urban planning and the future city.

What are the temporary and more enduring impacts of the pandemic in terms of urban development, policy and planning? Will urban life and culture be subject to radical change or go back to normal? Are there responses to the pandemic that hold more liberating and transformative potential? What possibilities and challenges has the pandemic created for promoting different relationships between people and the public spaces we inhabit?

We invite papers that span multiple perspectives on the transformation of public space in relation to pandemic urbanism, from papers advancing theory within the field, to papers focusing on practical perspectives and case-studies, as well as papers critically discussing and reflecting on theories and practices concerning the transformation of public space.

This is one of four sessions under the headline: Transforming Urban Space: Design, Democracy, Dwelling and Pandemic urbanism.

This four-part session argues that attending to the multiple social and ecologically crises the earth is currently facing requires different kinds of relationships between citizens and the spaces we design, construct and inhabit. Sustainability tends to be about things and products, focusing more on what goes into a building (e.g. materials used) than in monitoring the ongoing and processual relationships with the building’s environment, people, flora and fauna.

Urban design tends to be more about controlling than creating urban life. Perceived “disturbances” are “designed out” through regulations, objects and structures that risk deterring democratic expressions of dissent alongside other activities identified as anti-social behaviour. During the pandemic public spaces have been redesigned to accommodate physical distancing – the antithesis of collective public life.

Accompanying these tendencies is a risk that urban space conditions modes of dwelling that repress acknowledgement of and resist response to certain signs of social and ecological neglect or injustice, and with it our ability to care for each other and the environment.

This presents a key challenge in an age of social and ecological crisis: how can we adapt our ways of designing, regulating and inhabiting urban space so as to question and ultimately transform the power relations, neglects and injustices that are at the root of our socio-ecological predicament?

The session addresses this question from four perspectives/panels: design, democracy, dwelling and last, but not least, the impact of covid-19 on how we plan and inhabit public space.

Submit an abstract

We ask that abstracts limited to 200-300 words be sent directly to the organizers of the different sessions. Please see the session pages for details.

Please share this call with your colleagues or other interested parties. We hope to see you in Oslo come October!

On language

The conference primary language is Norwegian and Nordic languages, but many of our sessions will be conducted in English. All sessions welcome contributions in English, unless explicitly stated otherwise.