Today, almost all cities in the world are in distress; some, more so than others. Towards the end of 2019, Covid 19 arrived out of nowhere at a market in China and spread across the world, terrorizing the world population, killing people and hospitalizing many. While the first Chinese reaction was to screen it from the world and deal with it secretly for fear of economic turmoil, it soon engulfed Wuhan, the epicenter and many other cities across the world, as distant as Europe and USA. By April 2020, 50,000 in USA had died and 2 million had been infected. UK, Italy and Spain have had devastating consequences as a result of the lackluster attitude to the virus, when the governments put economies above the wellbeing of people and communities. In Sri Lanka however, the spread was skillfully managed initially although there are signs that it is getting out of control. In India, Thailand and Malaysia, many measures have been taken to contain including strict police and military interventions much to the dismay and opposition of people. World Health Organization has repeatedly assessed and re-assessed the situation now predicting that the world will go into deep recession; millions will face starvation and food shortage and poverty. Industries have collapsed, airline industry paralyzed, tourism coming to a virtual standstill. All cities are under lock-down measures, people confined to indoors, in a state of limbo, as to what comes next.
Most significantly, cities have changed beyond comprehension overnight. Cities were intended to be the conglomeration of people: socializing and coming together was its ethos. Busy restaurants, lively public spaces and promenades and hustle and bustle of life typified modernity and advancement of Man. Today however, quite the opposite is happening. The core measures against Covid 19; known as ‘social distancing’ wearing masks’ and ‘staying at home’ have meant that cities are deserted. Even if people arrive there, they keep to individuals, fearful of coming and sitting together, shaking hands, or even smiling with each other. Masks have transformed people into zombies. It is ironical that families drive in their own cars wearing masks.
One may argue that this is temporary and everything will return to ‘normal’ again. Some even including some world leaders dismissed the whole pandemic saying that this is just a flu and there is nothing significant. They refused to wear masks or social distancing. However, that attitude has proven to be disastrous. The signs are that the reality of the world has now come to haunt the people: that there can be unknown and unseen viruses that can play havoc in the human world anytime. We have taken for granted that the world we created; cities in particular were safe. This pandemic has shown that this is not so. The likely scenario is that the cities in future will be significantly different from now on. Already, deserted streets, shops, cafes and public spaces indicate the ‘fear’ that has come to drive society.
In this conference, we do not intend to predict what that future would be. Instead, we intend to record how the Covid-19 impacted the cities across the world in the past few months; the first half of 2020. It is understood that there may not have been many researchers going about cities, observing recording and deriving conclusions. However, there also those who have had their keen observations through non-physical means. Such research will be valuable to understand, how this pandemic affected the people across the cities, how they responded and what lessons there are to be learned.
The conference themes are open ended at the time of this announcement because we ourselves do not know, what would have happened in every city. Once the abstracts arrive, the Conference organizers will compile the themes emerging and organizing the sessions. As the first digital IC2P2 conference, it intends to play the role of ‘recording the aftermath of the Covid-19’ and its impact on cities as mapped out by the daring researchers of our cities.
Following sub themes are proposed but not limited to:
- Enhancing health and security in existing cities through urban design.
- Emerging multicultural cities and publicsafety- Challenges for urban designers.
- Issues of health and safety in super-diverse cities
- Understanding the concept of health & safety – social, & cultural variations & diversity.
- Achieving Sustainable Development Goals through planning and designing.
- Delineating of public space & individual borders in urban space.
- Practicing urban design, architecture and landscape architecture for safer settings.
- New paradigms, ideas and tools for research in super diverse communities.
- Inventing place-making practices with social distancing.
- People’s participation in space and personal realm
- Transit systems and health and safety.
- Community care and new initiations
- New directions for urban recreation
With the theme of IC2P2 2020, it is going to be an excitingintellectual event for the Urban Design andwe invite you to send your abstracts and start working on your papers. Paper proposals related to other humanistic, economic, social and technological issues of the cities are also welcome.