Post COVID City: Searching For Answers

March 17, 2020 — The Big Picture

Satish will be speaking on our upcoming Big Rethink ‘Lessons For Greenfield Megaprojects’ on Tuesday May 26 – tune in to hear more insights from Sri City.

The human being is a social animal but the global pandemic will have a paradigm-changing impact on social interactions, the future of city life, the built environment, mobility preferences, and what we value in a city.

For several years, information and telecommunication technology has existed but people were not ready to fully embrace it. The pandemic will likely speed up digitization of our lifestyles; organizational acceptance of working from home (WFH), virtual commutes, and globally distributed teams will only increase.

City dwellers will avoid non-critical meetings and daily commutes; students will attend more virtual classes and submit assignments digitally, and families will probably avoid crowded places like restaurants, malls, parks, theaters, and sports stadiums for a long time.

How will all this affect city design, public places, mobility solutions, and even design of homes will be transformed in the immediate future, making a permanent impact on the thumb-rules of urban design, commercial and residential buildings.

Right now there are too many questions with no clear answers.


Future Commercial, Mix Use and Public Spaces

Will malls and department stores continue to exist in the same format or will digital dominate the buying behavior? Will cafes and restaurants need redesign? Will theaters and sports arenas see spectators any time soon, or people will prefer to watch on 4K (maybe event 8K) home theaters? Will walkways, parks and plazas need a redesign to make them safer for users, and will we see more robots in public places providing services that are too unsafe for human workers?


Future Office

Will the offices do more ‘hoteling,’having only 50% seats anticipating the rest WFH? Will offices be ‘social distance friendly’. Will there be less meeting rooms or spacing between the seats will be increased. Will there be a change in the reception and lobby area with a screening and sanitization space added. Will there be an increase in smaller cubicles to give employees the feeling of privacy and safety, perhaps rethinking the open plan office overall? How will the office cafeteria change shape amidst other changes?


Future Home

We know that homes now need offices, will the design and layout of our homes be revisited to segregate living and working areas? Even apartment building layouts overall may be adjusted to minimize interaction with other tenants. With schools and Universities going virtual, will kids separate learning or virtual school spaces in the house? And how will nature make its way in given their new functionalities and purposes?

One thing that we know is that the future of our life in the city and social interactions will certainly change. I am looking forward to virtually working for the world from my city, fewer hours spent commuting, and less jetlagged days, leading to more time with family, a cleaner environment and being a virtual citizen of multiple cities.

Welcome to the post COVID-19 City and a New World.

About the author