Coronavirus questions that will not go away: interrogating urban and socio-spatial implications of COVID-19 measures

Ashraf M. Salama

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The highly contagious coronavirus and the rapid spread of COVID-19 disease have generated a global public health crisis, which is being addressed at various local and global scales through social distancing measures and guidelines. This is coupled with debates about the nature of living and working patterns through intensive utilisation of information and telecommunication technologies, leading to the social and institutional acceptability of these patterns as the ‘new normal.’ The primary objective of this article is to instigate a discourse about the potential contribution of architecture and urban design and planning in generating knowledge that responds to pressing questions about future considerations of post pandemic architecture and urbanism. Methodologically, the discussion is based on a trans-disciplinary framework, which is utilised for conceptual analysis and is operationalized by identifying and discoursing design and planning implications. The article underscores relevant factors; originates insights for areas where future research will be critically needed, through key areas: a) Issues related to urban dynamics are delineated from the perspective of urban and human geography, urban design and planning, and transportation engineering; b) Questions that pertain to socio-spatial implications and urban space/ urban life dialectics stem from the field of environmental psychology; and c) Deliberations about new environments that accommodate new living/working styles supervene from ethnographical and anthropological perspectives. The article concludes with an outlook that captures key aspects of the needed synergy between architectural and urban education, research, and practice and public health in a post pandemic virtual and global world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages12
JournalEmerald Open Research - Sustainable Cities Gateway
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2020


  • architecture
  • coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • social distancing
  • the actual normal
  • the new normal
  • urbanism
  • virtual worlds


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