Design principles for COVID-19 related street changes

With the COVID-19 crisis having major impacts on people’s perceptions and experiences of public spaces such as streets, those responsible for designing these places might face challenges around how to ensure they are safe and liveable. This guide from Urban Design London provides advice about how streets can be redesigned in light of the pandemic.

Date added 5 June 2020
Last updated 5 June 2020

With the COVID-19 crisis having major impacts on people’s perceptions and experiences of public spaces such as streets, those responsible for designing and maintaining these places might face challenges around how to ensure they are safe and liveable. This short and readable guide produced by Esther Kurland of Urban Design London, provides advice about how streets can be redesigned in light of the crisis. Alongside NACTO’s complementary advice into (re)designing streets for pandemic response and recovery, as featured in another High Streets Task Force resource, it can help anybody involved in managing, maintaining, or designing public spaces such as streets. The resource can assist in thinking through questions such as: Will the temporary tactical urbanism interventions being seen around the world lead to more long-term changes? How can we ensure public spaces are both safe and attractive? And who should be involved in the redesigning of streets and other public spaces? The guide can, therefore, help with navigating through to the recovery stages of the COVID-19 Recovery Framework adopted by the Task Force. The resource is structured around the four following areas, with the advice found within each summarised below:

Are we creating the spaces people need to safely get to work and shops?

Changes need to happen quickly to ensure places are safe; it is important to draw on local knowledge to inform (re)designs; and how the space is used can be studied and adapted accordingly.

Will people use the facilities provided as intended?

It is important people are able to easily understand what the place is for and how to use it; minimise any pinch points or confusing layouts; and adapt designs for purpose (which might change over time).

Can immediate changes be easily translated into semi-permanent or permanent schemes?

Any temporary interventions should be monitored and evaluated before more permanent solutions are installed; modular and movable apparatus systems are handy for adaptability; look to reuse and repurpose existing apparatus such as planters.

Will changes enhance and enrich Covid-19 recovery by providing more than travel opportunities?

Ensure designs can support current and future user needs, such as healthy lifestyles; be mindful of how street design might encourage or discourage certain (un)desired behaviours; think about appearance and creativity too with the use of plants and trees.