Covid-19 has made it very clear how important people’s homes and local areas are. Consequently, discussions about what a post-Covid world might entail have had plenty of focus on local spaces.
The takeaways from the lockdown experience have included the need for better cycling and walking routes, better commuting infrastructures, along with affordable homes and access to green spaces. But this can’t be a blanket approach. We’ve already highlighted the risks and pitfalls of making too many assumptions about people’s needs.
Reality is more complex than any sweeping generalisations about a changed society. The ideas about repurposing high streets, and of improving local areas need to be socially-led. This is about devising and completing genuinely local, cost-effective projects that recognise the human element in communities.
Architects, designers and planners should have roles that extend beyond the surface brief, to get truly under the skin of an area and its residents. They can be facilitators for change, by bridging the gap between ideals and concepts and people’s lived realities.