Don’t waste this city

12 AUG 2020
Ehret + Klein Greece_Don’t waste this city

Where and how we live, work, consume, communicate and move will change fundamentally in the future. This change was already on the horizon before the Corona pandemic. It will only amplify needs and weaknesses in urbanized spaces of urban development. In principle, Covid-19 is the famous straw that broke the camel’s back and, above all, shows what really matters now in urban and neighborhood development.

Mixed-use neighborhoods: city of short distances

During the weeks of lockdown in self-isolation, home office or homeschooling, everyday needs that we take for granted in urbanized spaces became apparent. After weeks of social distancing, the desire for real and analogue contacts became increasingly important. Likewise, a higher value was placed on supplies and infrastructure. We prefer to stay in lively and urban places that give us a sense of community and enable unrestricted local supply.

This corresponds to the idea of a dense, mixed city of short distances that connects all this in one neighborhood. As a project and neighborhood developer, ehret+klein designs and implements mixed-use neighborhoods where people enjoy living, working, spending their leisure time, and shopping.

Needs-oriented cities and neighborhoods

But how does the interplay between urbanity and community succeed in neighborhood development? By allowing people to participate in the development and design of a place. These spaces, initiated through citizen participation, create a sense of community and a new relationship to the city and public space.

It has been gratifying in recent weeks to see a growing readiness for a more digital real estate industry because of the Corona pandemic. This willingness to reform holds the opportunity for digital participation formats. In this way, planning and approval processes can be made accessible to broader and public participation. This results in broadly legitimized decisions for a more livable and needs-oriented city.

More space efficiency

We must and will have a new debate about urbanity and density. Home office and homeschooling made us aware of the numerous empty work and office spaces, as well as the streets densely filled with cars. But even before Corona, many offices remained unused in the evenings, at night and on weekends. Yet there are enough creative and self-employed people who only start work in the evening. So, it is conceivable to simply use the space we have more efficiently.

The pandemic not only changes our understanding of sustainable neighborhood development, it also shows what opportunities we can seize now. A well-designed neighborhood, developed with all the crucial actors, can make urban development and thus urban society flourish with its urban, welcoming spaces. This includes the diversification of horizontal and vertical use concepts. It also includes involving and picking up the local people, because they fill a place with life.

Yours, Michael Ehret

This article also appeared in the polis magazine for the polis Convention on 13.08.2020.