Some changes need some catastrophes. This seems to be true in the case of corona virus as well. As the world still stands perplexed at how to deal with the situation, cities have started coming up with their own ways of combating with the problem. The uncertainty of who has the virus and who does not has spread a sense of fear, making people resort to new ways of going about their everyday lives.
Empty parking lots have been changed into playgrounds, bike lanes that provide more space to allow for distancing between cyclists have come in place, and plastic sheets separate drivers from the passengers in public transportation like subways. If the rate of changes remains constant, this could lead to some of the best changes of the time, positively affecting the city. Sara Jensen Carr, assistant professor of architecture at Northeastern University, talks about how she finds the changes that are happening to be interesting and that historically, fear and unknowability of diseases have supported some of the largest changes. She is the author of The Topography of Wellness: Health and the American Urban Landscape, a book that is yet to be released, talking about the manner in which epidemics have changed the way cities are designed.
However, such drastic and sudden changes are not always fruitful. It can be a really testing time for the underprivileged and the ones living on the margin may find the inequalities get more pronounced. For example, history has it how an African-American village called Seneca Village was levelled to create Central Park. The corona virus situation can lead to some other similar changes that could be detrimental to the sociological health of the society. More reliance on cars due to fear of public transport can also lead to more health and environmental issues related to this.
N Malavika Mohan