Urban Magnets & COVID-19 With Bruce Haden, Part Two


Published on June 27th, 2020 |
by Winter Wilson

June 27th, 2020 by  

In the second episode of our CleanTech Talk interview with architect, urbanist, and author Bruce Haden, Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist of TFIE Strategy Inc. and CleanTechnica contributor, talks with Bruce about urban magnets and architecture in the time of COVID-19. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.

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Mike and Bruce launch the second half of this interview with more talk about urban magnets. Both talk about what makes a place an urban magnet and how they become successful. Bruce notes that one of the most critical questions to ask is how a city can support and make activities visible so the location feels more authentic. For example, Bruce explains that people want to see artwork being made or activities happening. That is why he has been particularly passionate about creating authentic environments. 

They transition into how designing spaces has changed in an era of COVID-19. Bruce and Mike have been thinking about how spaces can be designed as well to support social connection even when physical distancing is necessary. Architecture, Mike says, has the potential to keep people away from each other or encourage social interaction and engagement. Mike has been especially curious about this topic of architecture and sociability given how COVID-19 might make us reconsider how we design public spaces.

Bruce recounts experiences where he worked to create spaces that encourage social connection and how he found very few tools that actually understand how people move around spaces in a predictive way. One of the most important considerations, he notes, was how people move around spaces and how it affects their possibility for interaction. Bruce had just started looking into city and building organization and human connection when COVID-19 became a global pandemic and pushed people to think more critically about sociability and maintaining distance between people.

One of Bruce’s main fears around the COVID-19 is that the lack of social connection will place a significant strain on individuals. Mike notes that more work is being done in this area as people realize that the combination of a fluid sociability score and a physical distancing score would be a powerful combination because it allows architects and designers to optimize for both. As Bruce notes, however, planners cannot treat this just as an emergency when poor design has been a chronic condition. Both Mike and Bruce want to make sure that people consider long-term plans for creating buildings and cities that positively impact social connection, environmental impacts, and other critical challenges. 

To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!

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About the Author

Winter Wilson is a Cutler Scholar and undergraduate student double majoring in Environmental Studies and Journalism at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, with a minor in French. Her academic interests include environmental communication, technology and social innovation, especially as they relate to international climate change mitigation and adaptation. Though Winter attends school in her hometown of Athens, Ohio, she takes advantage of her breaks to explore the world beyond. She spent her most recent break undertaking self-driven research on climate change and environmental justice in Southeast Asia. This year, she will be completing her dual thesis and supplementary documentary series on climate change communication. Winter is excited to contribute to and work with the team at CleanTechnica as a Summer Editorial Intern.

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