While an increasing number of people live in urban areas all around the world, the morphology and characteristics of these are constantly evolving to adapt to the lifestyle and changing needs of their inhabitants. This is nothing new; for centuries, urban planners have been studying how we interact with the built environment and designing solutions to improve the well-being of those who live in densely populated areas.
From the Garden City movement to Arturo Soria’s Linear city or Le Corbusier’s Towers in the park, architects, sociologists, and urban designers have strived to create more comfortable and livable spaces that allow efficient and effective use of the land. In the 21st century, we need cleaner, greener and more accessible cities, with wide sidewalks and bike lanes, friendly to pedestrians, and safe for everyone. The pandemic has increased the need for some changes that were already taking place and has made some others appear.
2020 will be remembered as the year New York City emptied, with the main touristic, cultural, and business centers deserted and thousands of city dwellers fleeing to the outer areas of the metropolitan region. Something similar happened in many large European capitals, hard hit by the disease and affected for many months by various restrictions and severe lockdowns. Venice without visitors, dolphins swimming in the most popular ports of the Mediterranean sea, and thousands of empty airplanes on the ground are some of the stamps that the first year of the pandemic will leave in our memory.
Our homes, spaces often located at a great distance from the workplace and sometimes dedicated to little more than daily rest after a long working day, became for many people makeshift offices and compulsory leisure centers. This made its shortcomings apparent, and the possibility of having a large garden and a few extra square meters for a desk