Rethink: 2025 – Design for life after Covid-19 – design competition

When the pandemic is gone, it will leave ourselves thinking about what has gone wrong with the worst of the best of all possible worlds.
Someone said this virus is democratic. No, it is not; it has affected the population in different ways. Some people lived through this experience in comfortable houses with gardens while others struggled in overcrowded flats with no privacy or external spaces.
But also, we have all experienced the beauty of the streets reclaimed by the urban traffic. We have, for the first time in generations, experienced the beauty of walking in an urban environment being the pedestrian masters and not the vehicles servants. We have understood how an urban scene can be spacious and pleasant when it’s not engulfed by cars and lorries. It is not feasible to get rid of them, but we limit them to defend the well-being of the urban population.
This proposal has sprung from these two considerations and developed itself on two distinct but interconnected lines: the private and the social living of people in our cities and how this pandemic experience can be a starting point to improve our lives.
80% of the 2050 buildings’ stock exists today, so we have to find an integrated approach for making the built environment sustainable.
On the private side of life, the concept conceives a simple way to add green and external spaces to the old existing buildings. This particular example refers to the typical post-war social housing typology. Still, it can be expanded to any other type of building lacking external green areas for residents.
Once it was the street, now it’s the “garden in the sky”.
The buildings are wrapped by an external structure (possibly a CLT one) to sustain new green external spaces for the people, one for each flat.
The roof space becomes a green area hosting a series of allotments for the residents.
The maintenance is always one of the green roofs’ issues. This matter is solved because, by working in their allotments, the residents will directly maintain it.
They will also be able to produce their food, to reconnect with nature and to enjoy outdoor activities.
On the social side, the concept proposes to reform the use of the public realm by reclaiming space from the vehicle territory to give it back to pedestrians and cyclists.
The parking spaces are filled with modules wrapped in green, with the exact size of a typical parking space to fit them precisely.
The conceived modules are three so far, but they can be more in the future. One is a store module (which can be utilized from serving street food to sell electronic devices), a portable park, for people to sit and relax, and a support space for pubs and restaurants where people can sit, eat and drink even in times of social distancing.
The circulation hierarchy is designed to give the pedestrians and cyclists a safe and pleasant realm using green edges to divide them from the vehicular traffic.