How we can redesign cities to fight future pandemics

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How we can redesign cities to fight future pandemics
Throughout history, disease outbreaks have forced new innovations in urban design: Fighting cholera epidemics in the 1800s, for example, necessitated the building of new plumbing and sewer systems and the devising of new zoning laws to prevent overcrowding.


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Forced innovations

Throughout history, disease outbreaks have forced new innovations in urban design. Cholera epidemics in the 1800s led to the necessity for new plumbing and sewer systems as well as new zoning la...


Virus-free transit

Better design could help reduce crowds where viruses can easily spread.
At airports, security screening could be done differently so passengers are not forced to wait in crowded lines. It can re...



Air quality should happen in the public transportation system as well as inside buildings since we spend most of our time indoors.

  • Air can be made much cleaner with UV-C light, for ...



Hospitals can be better designed to handle outbreaks of infectious diseases.

  • Hospital rooms should easily transform from an acute care room into a critical care ICU room.
  • ...




Holistic approaches to making cities and buildings healthy can include making it less likely that people get sick and possibly avoid more serious consequences.

  • More outdoor spaces, ...


Handwashing everywhere

Some potential changes in cities could be handwashing stations at bus stops, retail stores, banks, and restaurants.

If you're walking around a city where there is no place where you can wash...



Open offices will get more open

The open office has gotten less open over time because more people were put into it.

A well-designed open plan has only about 30% of people sitting at a desk. The rest are using other p...

The new welcome space

If you've visited an open office In the past, you've probably been greeted by someone sitting behind a desk. They would point you to a self-serve coffee - all to make visitors feel comfortable.

Going forward will be about perceived safety. The new paradigm may include a mudroom to change your shoes and wash your hands. It may even be a place to run health screenings.

The clear cubicle

A transparent material is used to build clear barriers between people.

We can expect to see clear dividers rise up, creating walls around desks. There are better materials that are more antimicrobial, but clear plastic is in demand because it encourages a perceived sense of safety.

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Spreading and deactivation

The new virus spreads most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets that can be inhaled by nearby people or land on surf...

Sticking in the air /on surfaces

  • The new virus is thought to persist in the air for up to 3 hours and for 2 to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces.
  • The new virus has been detected in feces, suggesting the virus could be spread by people who don’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • There is no indication that it spreads through drinking water, swimming pools, or hot tubs.

Bleach and the outdoors

  • The disinfectant most commonly used outdoors is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach). But it’s unclear whether bleach destroys viruses outside, and if it does kill them on surfaces it's unclear whether it would kill viruses in the air.
  • UV light seems to destroy the new virus as well. Bleach itself breaks down under ultraviolet (UV) light.

Jane Jacobs and her biginnings

Jane Jacobs and her biginnings

Born in a Jewish family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Jane Jacobs is considered a founder of the New Urbanist movement.

What made her vision particular was the fact that s...

Engaging in urban planning

  • The writer and journalist Jane Jacobs is mainly known for her writings on urban planning.
  • Through magazines such as Architectural Forum or Fortune, she explained her perception on what was wrong with the approach to redevelopment in New York City, for instance.
  • After having attended courses on urban planning, she launched her most famous book 'The death and life of great American cities', which was both highly praised and criticized.

Jane Jacobs' activism

The writer Jane Jacobs has always taken a high interest in urban planning, emphasizing the necessity to take into account community's needs.

She was particularly involved in redevelopment projects such as the ones concerning the Greenwich Village and Toronto, where she participated in demonstrations against changes that did not focus on community, but on individual interests of the 'master builders'.

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