Directors Message - 15 February 2021

Jasmine Ong, AILA National Director

祝您牛年快乐! Happy Year of the Ox!

We are 45 days into 2021. Whilst Covid has thrown us many challenges, it also presents opportunities for landscape architects to take stock and reassess our priorities and role in building more liveable cities, connected communities and equitable green spaces. 

In their recent blog article '11 ways cities will change from Covid', Neighbourlytics  sets out the following key trends to watch. Please refer to their website for the full article:

  1. Walkable neighbourhoods – having your daily needs within walking distance, based on the 15 min/ 20 min neighbourhood model already adopted by Paris, Melbourne and Copenhagen.
  2. Streets for people (not carparks) – more cities are reclaiming car spaces for pedestrians and outdoor dining with greater awareness that increased footfall boosts business revenue (not proximity of car parking to business). 
  3. Increased focus on mixed-use - stronger focus on human scale, mixed use businesses and amenity, rather than mono-use.
  4. Pop-up cycle lanes – the pandemic has propelled the installation of pop up cycle lanes to improve social distancing and safe travel outside of public transport, and are likely to become permanent infrastructure. 
  5. Access to nature – a diversity of public space in our urban environments. It is nature that supports people in physical and mental health through crisis. Initiatives to re-wild our cities and increase natural green spaces are popping up worldwide.
  6. Less big destinations, more local amenity – our cities will focus less on large destinations like anchor store and anchor events. Instead, cities will be more about shopping and supporting local businesses. 
  7. Space to physically distance – expect to see more activities held outdoors.
  8. Internet access as public good – greater investment in stable, high-speed broadband infrastructure to support new ways of working and living, and allowing people to remain connected.
  9. Work from anywhere – flexible working arrangements are becoming normalised with abrupt revelation that we don’t have to live close to work, leading to the exodus from cities to regions that promise quieter, spacious and affordable living.
  10. Less red tape, more agile and flexible processes – a plethora of tactical urbanism projects, once regarded renegade, are now being deployed as major city making principles. Many pop-up spaces and outdoor dining experiments created in response to Covid will become permanent investments.
  11. Smarter data – a strong trend in the use of digital data with businesses, consultancies and governments as they respond to crisis and changing neighbourhoods. 

In many ways, the Covid crisis is catalysing a shift to equitable green spaces, promoting active transport and re-wilding spaces. Our planning and design work in landscape architecture is pivotal in supporting our communities through this crisis and beyond.

Jasmine Ong, 
AILA National Director