Reclaiming Public Spaces amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Tactical Urbanism as a ‘Resilience’ Response

Keywords: adaptability, COVID-19, pandemic, public space, resilience, tactical urbanism, temporary interventions


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Several cities were struck by the global COVID-19 pandemic in the year 2020. The rapid and hazardous spread of the crisis resulted in a profound urban transformation, changing the fundamentals of urban living. This research provides a perspective regarding the vulnerability and resilience of cities, particularly their public spaces. Public spaces, a significant component of the urban realm, remained fundamental in transforming cities during the pandemic. Implementing radical measures to minimize the spread of the virus and adopting emergency plans to resist the subsequent socioeconomic collapse demonstrated the varying yet synchronized stance on resilience. Two key approaches are used to pursue the concept of resilience as a strategic framework for public spaces. These include a balancing or bounce-back approach, which supports the idea of ‘return to normal’. The other is an evolutionary or bounce-forward tactic, characterized by adaptive capacity and transformation. This research reflects on the adaptive capacity of ‘resilience’ in public spaces, in which ‘tactical urbanism’ as an effective tool is used to create flexible, low-cost, and temporary design strategies to achieve public health goals and urban sustainability. It also discusses the examples of tactical interventions in public spaces during the pandemic and manifests the strength of temporary tactics to bring long-term change. The research concludes by proposing a new paradigm for public space planning, associating tactical urbanism and incorporating the evolutionary or adaptive capacity of resilience. The discussed strategies instil a vision for designing resilient public spaces for highly anticipated future pandemics and other hazards. 


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How to Cite
Shah, S. J., Akhtar, M., & Qureshi, R. A. (2023). Reclaiming Public Spaces amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Tactical Urbanism as a ‘Resilience’ Response. Journal of Art, Architecture and Built Environment, 6(2), 54-79.