International Committee

  • 1.  The Future of Urbanism and Architecture Post Covid 19

    Posted 05-28-2020 04:52 PM

    The Future of Urbanism and Architecture Post Covid 19

    By Yermys Peña



    The future of architecture faces a historical moment, because we will change our lifestyle. Quarantine experiences throughout history have forced us to rethink, reinterpret and rethink cities; from public spaces and architectural response of projects, responding to criteria not only of sustainability, but also that promote well-being and health.


    If we study the history of the great pandemics:

    • The renovation of Paris in 1800, caused by overcrowding and the cholera epidemic, led Napoleon III to entrust Haussmann with the renovation of the city. That included demolishing medieval neighborhoods and build wide avenues, new parks and plazas, sewers, aqueducts, and suburbs.


    • Another example was the black plague that affected Eurasia in the 14th century, leaving a sudden shortage of manpower that motivated the invention of new technologies and urban strategies, from the invention of the printing press to the search for a city other than medieval that met ventilation and lighting conditions. Therefore, improving living and working conditions.


    • During the fight against the spread of tuberculosis, the social hygienist movement scientifically determined the volume of work and study spaces to optimize oxygenation and daylight hours. Many of our architectural and urban solutions today are the result of that search for health, hygiene and comfort of this time.


    • Barcelona is another example that in order to fight the epidemics that were raging in the 19th century, it modified its urban structure with the help of Ildefons Cerdà to end the unhealthiness of the city. And so it managed to get out of these periodic epidemics through urban planning.
     So we are in a moment to rethink the designs for each one of the buildings and face the need to continue forward, as Aristoteles said: "man is a social being by nature", "we need others to survive", he " is" as long as it he "co-is" the challenge is to propose solutions for a better community coexistence from the City to the buildings.


    The nature of emergencies lead us to question ourselves about our ways of life, our social structure. For example, 9/11 led us to take serious security measures, and brought a new approach in terms of airport design, among others. The Covid-19 will undoubtedly lead us to creating a greater connection in the communities.For their part, cities must offer greater care for climate change, modify our ways of life, production, consumption, and movement. Offer more recreational spaces, modify the urban environment to increase pedestrian mobility, more green areas, among others.We need to return to being the protagonists of our cities, because right now we are watchers, most from our vehicles or from a space in a building. Revitalize communities with the power of architecture, unite them and create those spaces of connection that were lost after decades of urban planning, where the rush to settle had priority. Give value to green spaces, interior and exterior space, and the connection with nature. Address the quality of light, air, sounds, smells, the senses in general from a new perspective.The buildings will have to be designed with new technologies because the world will not be the same after this epidemic. These technologies that avoid contact: automatic doors, voice-activated elevator, hotel registrations by cell phone, hands-free switches, automatic labels on suitcases and checkings, foot-operated door handles, supermarket shopping technology, breathing facades, thermal cameras, indoor air quality control, facial or voice access controls, all seeking to preserve health and avoid contagion.

    In general, this pandemic leaves us looking towards to a healthier world, focused on wellness and happiness. Good design, flexibility and spatial versatility, correct orientation, distribution, location, selection of materials, sensory experience, nature, spatial quality will be revalued in search of improving health through our buildings and taking care of the environment. The challenge for cities will be to offer more proximity, less stress and less travel time. So what we must do is plan urban life, starting from the human being, to its use to offer quality of life over short distances, meeting the essential urban needs of man. As architects we have a great responsibility, we are an important part of the transition towards a post pandemic life. It is time to develop plans to change our homes, our workplaces, our public spaces and our educational centers. In this spatial decisions we make today, during this emergency, they may make or break our ability to survive similar crisis for ourselves or for the next generation.


    * The book of Pandemics: the 50 most virulent Pests and Infections in the world. Author Peter Moore

    * Health sites and controlled spaces. A morphological study of quarantine architecture. Author Quim Bonastra


    *** The author is an architect, teacher, construction entrepreneur, expert in sustainable design, bioclimatic architecture and wellness architecture ***

    Yermys Pena Intl. Assoc. AIA

  • 2.  RE: The Future of Urbanism and Architecture Post Covid 19

    Posted 05-31-2020 07:25 PM
    Sadly, some of the innovations conceived in reaction to unhealthy conditions have not proved to be improvements.  In large cities across the world we replaced over-crowded, low-rise, multiple dwellings with the well-fenestrated but de-humanizing monoblocks of "worker housing" or "housing projects."   Yermis, I long to share your optimism.  Veremos.

    Leslie Levy Assoc. AIA
    Syosset NY