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Landscapes in the Time of Social Distancing: Pandemic and the Design of the Urban Environment

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 April 2022) | Viewed by 20884

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor

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Guest Editor
1. School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
2. The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)
Interests: integration of indigenous methods in participatory design and place-making in landscape rehabilitation and ecosystem services
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Landscape Art, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, 02-787Warsaw, Poland
Interests: landscape architecture and art, placemaking, temporary and low-budget strategies in urban design, social participation in design process

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Guest Editor
1. Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech) MD6, 14 Medical Drive, #14, Singapore 117599, Singapore
2. NeuroLandscape Foundation, Suwalska 8/78, 03-252 Warsaw, Poland
Interests: landscape; urban; mental health; well-being; design; neuroscience; eeg; contemplative; environment; brain
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Most countries have implemented preventative measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. The purpose of these measures is mainly social distancing, which includes changes to and restrictions of the use of public space. Movement of people as well as social contact have been reduced to a minimum and it has become a social responsibility (often law-enforced) to stay at home.

As the global market and service providers adjust to the realm of the pandemic, many places have started to introduce online, virtual tours and experiences. This shift also applies to urban parks and gardens, public spaces, and even national parks. Exercise and sport activities are moving from gyms, sport fields, and parks to living rooms. The window view is becoming a key feature of apartments and houses, with people looking for comfort in the landscape visible directly from their homes—now turned into offices.

Meanwhile, cities around the world are introducing temporary (“tactical”) public space interventions in preparation for post-lockdown urban life. This may include, but is not limited to, the extension of footpaths, widening of bike lanes, closures of some streets (providing new, extended “meeting grounds”) and improvement in the quality of public sanitary facilities. The area of urban planning and design is facing a grand challenge to seek new solutions and answer questions on the alternative use of specific spaces and their public/private character.

In countries that have experienced severe lockdowns, private spaces such as balconies and terraces have become places for public meetings and allotment gardens have become places of refuge as “enclaves” of green private and “safe” space in the urban environment. In cities that have enforced a “stay local” policy, neighborhood parks and their accessibility have become vital, as long distance (car) travel for recreation is not allowed. Large open green spaces, urban forests, and some green wasteland (Informal Green Spaces) seem to be the safest places in the city due to the possibility of social distancing.

For this Special Issue, we invite authors to submit research articles or commentaries that focus on one or more of the following topics:

  • social distancing in the public space;
  • streetscape in times of pandemic;
  • recreational use of Informal Green Spaces (IGS) or green wastelands in the time of pandemic;
  • urban parks in the time of social distancing;
  • salutogenesis and biophilic design;
  • nature connection indoors and window view studies;
  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities and neighborhoods;
  • green space and “recreation” through online immersive technologies;
  • public space and the social “bubble”;
  • the benefits of green spaces on public health and mental well-being during the pandemic;
  • the roles of allotment gardens, community gardens, and urban farms in food production during the pandemic;
  • from private to public—the roles of balconies, roof gardens, etc.;
  • tactical urbanism and temporary responses for the pandemic in the city;
  • and future, post-pandemic landscape architecture and urban design challenges.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Panagopoulos
Dr. Bruno Marques
Assist. Prof. Krzysztof Herman
Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Social distancing
  • Public space
  • Pandemic
  • Streetscape
  • Urban parks
  • Biophilic design
  • Window view studies
  • Immersive technologies
  • Tactical urbanism
  • Urban design

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

32 pages, 8685 KiB  
Article
Outdoor Terraces in Barcelona and Milan: Configuration of New Spaces for Social Interaction
by Emma Maev O’Connell, Eulàlia Gomez-Escoda and Álvaro Clua Uceda
Sustainability 2022, 14(13), 7837; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14137837 - 27 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2240
Abstract
This work approaches the phenomenon of the outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants, analysing the role of these privately owned collective elements whose layout has shaped the urban landscape at the pavement level for more than a century, and whose presence has become [...] Read more.
This work approaches the phenomenon of the outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants, analysing the role of these privately owned collective elements whose layout has shaped the urban landscape at the pavement level for more than a century, and whose presence has become essential in the streets of many cities after a pandemic. The research highlights the interest of terraces as dynamic elements of urbanity: private domains in the public space where people eat collectively; they are apparently simple units that synthesise complex conflicts between individual behaviours and property boundary conditions. The investigation shows the increasing expansion that outdoor terraces have experienced since 2020, using the cities of Barcelona and Milan as case studies. A series of GIS maps show the image of both cities before and after the pandemic, allowing us to evaluate the amount of public space allocated to terraces, measure their increase in number and surface, establish the proportions of occupation of the street and find the patterns of concentration in the public space. Finally, the article offers some policy and planning recommendations based on the research findings. Full article
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19 pages, 5396 KiB  
Article
New Beach Landscapes to Promote Social Distancing and Coastal Conservation during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Patricia Moreno-Casasola, Marisa Luisa Martínez and Debora Lithgow
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6268; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116268 - 01 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3106
Abstract
The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic that has altered practically all human activities worldwide. Since the pandemic started at the beginning of 2020, infections have fluctuated drastically over time. It is difficult to predict how this situation will evolve in the [...] Read more.
The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a pandemic that has altered practically all human activities worldwide. Since the pandemic started at the beginning of 2020, infections have fluctuated drastically over time. It is difficult to predict how this situation will evolve in the coming months/years or when a return to some semblance of ’normal’ activity might occur. Because of global lock-up and distancing measures, the beaches, otherwise filled with tourists, first emptied and then had a reduced density of visitors owing to a wide variety of social-distancing measures. Therefore, new safety protocols need to include a wide range of aspects, such as epidemiological conditions, socioeconomic realities, and ecological contexts in which the pandemic occurs. Here, we propose new nature-based landscapes for sandy beaches to help maintain the social distancing of beach visitors while beaches and dunes are restored. When sufficient sediment is available, the maintenance and restoration of healthy beaches with incipient dunes and vegetation will help reduce contagion, promote human health, and recover natural ecosystems. Full article
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13 pages, 1304 KiB  
Article
A Study on Practicing Qigong and Getting Better Health Benefits in Biophilic Urban Green Spaces
by Shih-Han Hung, Wan-Yu Chou and Chun-Yen Chang
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1692; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041692 - 04 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3421
Abstract
In natural spaces, people experience traditional environmental Qi (TEQ), which supports healthy environmental energy flow, and helps them gain an overall improved Qi experience from practicing Qigong. However, what kind of urban green spaces support Qigong? This study provides an analysis that measures [...] Read more.
In natural spaces, people experience traditional environmental Qi (TEQ), which supports healthy environmental energy flow, and helps them gain an overall improved Qi experience from practicing Qigong. However, what kind of urban green spaces support Qigong? This study provides an analysis that measures TEQ, Qi experience, flow experience, restorative experience, and preference when practicing Qigong in different urban green spaces. A total of 654 valid data points were collected. The results indicate that subjects practicing “breathing” among trees, meadows, and waterscapes perceived higher TEQ, Qi experience, flow experience, and restorative experience, and preferred it to the environment of plazas. In addition, practicing Qigong in environments featuring biophilic elements, such as plants (meadows and trees), elicits flow experience and Qi experience in the built environment. Water, an important biophilic element, also produces better TEQ and restorative experiences, and is preferred by human beings. These results make a connection between Qigong, experiences, and biophilic urban green spaces, and offer suggestions for users to gain health benefits while exercising in urban areas. Full article
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21 pages, 4028 KiB  
Article
Green Infrastructure in the Time of Social Distancing: Urban Policy and the Tactical Pandemic Urbanism
by Krzysztof Herman and Łukasz Drozda
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1632; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041632 - 03 Feb 2021
Cited by 45 | Viewed by 8614
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic generated a number of changes in the functioning of urban areas all over the world and had a visible impact on the use of green infrastructure, including city parks. The study discusses and compares operation and use of two such [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic generated a number of changes in the functioning of urban areas all over the world and had a visible impact on the use of green infrastructure, including city parks. The study discusses and compares operation and use of two such parks located in Wellington, New Zealand and Warsaw, Poland by adopting “pandemic urban ethnography”, an approach that includes autoethnography, interviews with users, non-participant observation, and analysis of social media content. As indicated by the findings of the study, the importance of less rigidly designed, multifunctional spaces that give their users freedom of “tactical” adjustments, significantly grows during times of lockdown and “social distancing”. During such a crisis, the management and everyday use of urban parks are highly related to urban policies. The article provides insight into how those policies impact the functional values of green infrastructure confronting it with user-generated adaptations and the landscape design itself. The global health emergency showed how access to green areas becomes a crucial determinant on environmental justice while proving the significance of “tactical pandemic urbanism” as both a design and management method. Full article
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