by Aynaz Lotfata, PhD
Aynaz Lotfata is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban Planning at Chicago State University, Illinois. Her cross-disciplinary research focuses on environmental justice and urban wellbeing. Her studies demonstrate the integration of principles from various disciplines such as urban planning, geospatial sciences, and statistical modeling to address socio-environmental planning problems that are interconnected to landscape architecture and urban design. We are delighted to have Aynaz share her ideas about increasing walkability during the pandemic from an urban planning perspective.
– Sara Hadavi, Associate ASLA, Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) leader and Landscape Architecture Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee member
The way urban planning and design practice responds to urban transformation comes with shifts in focus. Rather than taking the development of cities as the outcome of predefined decisions, the urban change is reflected as a process shaped by a wide variety of uncertainties, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. At the heart of this reflection, planning practice tackles the issue of how to be synchronized with evolutionary dimensions of cities, and how to to strengthen cities’ “adoptable capacity” (Rauws & De Roo, 2016).
Exploring the adoptable capacity of cities leads urban practitioners to value informal responses that influence productions of urban changes and organically proceeding paths of the spatial and functional organization of urban space.
The different forms of urbanisms—tactical urbanism (Lydon and Garcia, 2015), temporary urbanism (Ferreri, 2015; Andres, 2013), chrono-urbanism (15-minutes city; Moreno et al., 2020), do-it-yourself urbanism—are highlighted in the literature as alternative forms of urban space production. Actions are taken in the short-term by people while at the same time the adoption of these actions into the practices of urban design seems to have a key role in these forms of urbanism. These approaches resemble urban acupuncture (Lerner, 2014) where targeted local interventions work in a complementary way to have an overall positive effect. Notably, Colin McFarlane considers both informalities and tactical environments as channels of learning to cope with cities’ complexity and to facilitate their adaptability; and taking them as learning practices, he suggests that they offer a critical opportunity for progressive urbanism.