Innovations That Matter

7 Innovations Shaping the Future of Cities Post-COVID

Innovation Snapshot

The following solutions recently spotted by Springwise show how cities and businesses are adapting to life during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

As in most other areas, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be speeding up existing trends related to city development — while spurring new solutions in direct response to the health crisis. 

The emerging tech behind autonomous vehicles and delivery robots has become more relevant in response to the coronavirus, pushing forward its implementation and shaping it to match the moment. Additionally, modular design is proving its usefulness as cities aim to stay agile amidst rapidly changing circumstances.  

Sustainability and self-sufficient city living are also more important than ever, as COVID continues to realign priorities and highlights the need for cities to be prepared to handle future crises, whether they are related to climate change, future pandemics, or both. 

Photo source Guallart Architects

1. A CONCEPT CITY DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND PANDEMICS

Barcelona-based Guallart Architects has designed a concept city that could help people to weather the next viral outbreak. Their Self-Sufficient City design would be able to produce its own energy and food.

The Guallart team that developed the design were all working from home during Spain’s coronavirus lockdown, and they included aspects they thought would make our lives better in the situation. This includes greenhouses on many of the buildings for growing food and small-scale “co-working digital factories” that would use 3D-printing and rapid prototyping to supply replacements for missing or broken items in the event of supply chain disruption.

Read more about the Self-Sufficient City

Photo source Arup

2. POP-UP ‘PARKLETS’ TURN ANY RESTAURANT INTO A PAVEMENT CAFÉ

Engineering firm Arup designed miniature parks that could help cities re-imagine how they use public spaces in the post-COVID era. The “parklets” are made up of seating and greenery that fit in existing parking bays. The idea is to create pop-up parks that can transform the look of almost any street.

The parklets underwent a trial run in Liverpool, as part of the ongoing “Liverpool Without Walls” project. The scheme is aimed at making streets more user-friendly, in order to give local businesses a boost. 

Read more about the pop-up “parklets”

Photo source Ponti Design Studio

3. ELECTRIC, DRIVERLESS TRAM CONCEPT MINIMISES CONTACT FOR SAFER TRANSPORT

Hong Kong’s Ponti Design Studio created an autonomous, electric-powered tram, named the Island. Designed specifically to encourage the use of public transport while maintaining safe social distancing, the tram is a double-decker vehicle. 

Island-shaped seats run down the middle of each level, encouraging riders to face away from each other. The majority of the sides and ceiling are glass, ensuring maximum natural light inside.

Read more about the driverless tram concept

Photo source Waugh Thistleton

4. FLEXIBLE WORKSPACE COMPANY BUILDS A FULLY DEMOUNTABLE OFFICE BLOCK

London architect studio Waugh Thistleton built a hybrid cross-laminated-timber and steel office block for British Land’s flexible workspace company. Sitting alongside the canal at Regent’s at 6 Orsman Road, the six-storey building contains 3,150 square metres of office space and can be demounted at the end of its life.

Waugh Thistleton Architects aimed to create a flexible building that could be adapted to the needs of its many tenants, which is why there are only two columns per space and no internal support walls. 

Read more about the demountable office block

Photo source Bike2Box

5. BICYCLE PARKING ‘BOXES’ MEET INCREASED USE POST LOCKDOWN

In response to the increased need for bicycle parking, Polish company Bike2Box launched a modular bicycle parking box that transforms a standard car parking slot into a locker accommodating twelve bicycles.

The box does not require any installation and can be easily fitted into one to three standard parking spaces in a garage. The whole process is quick and easy, and won’t alter the building’s infrastructure.

Read more about Bike2Box

6. SMALL, BOXY ROBOTS ARE DELIVERING ORDERS IN BOGOTA

Colombia-based delivery company Rappi partnered with fellow Columbian startup Kiwibot to begin using small, boxy robots for deliveries. The bots travel on four wheels and are equipped with orange flags to make them more noticeable. They can carry deliveries measuring up to 35 square centimetres (5 square inches), which is a bit small for a pizza but will fit many other takeaway meals.

Read more about the delivery robots

Photo source Stefano Boeri Architetti

7. ITALIAN ARCHITECTS PLAN SUSTAINABLE NEIGHBOURHOOD IN TIRANA

The Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti designed an entire greenery-filled neighbourhood in Albania, offering reduced pollution and a healthier environment to tackle post-COVID needs. 

The Tirana Riverside project will be constructed along a 29-hectare (71-acre) riverfront site, where there will be housing, retail space, commercial space, office space, a school and university. The plans include multiple towers and high-rise buildings, housing up to 12,000 people. 

Read more about the sustainable neighbourhood concept