question of how we will inhabit cities after COVID-19 has popped amongst most
urban planners, as we all question urban dynamics and see the pandemic as an
opportunity to reshape not only the way we inhabit cities, but also how we move
the first images from an isolated Wuhan to the photos of empty streets in New
York, the media have shared powerful images that invite urban enthusiasts to
question the use of street space generally dominated by cars.
disruption of our everyday lives brought a perfect momentum for urbanists to
push forward a sustainable mobility agenda as many people worked from home, micro-mobility
became the only type of mobility for many, and even the World Health Organisation
encouraged people to consider riding bikes and walking whenever feasible.
public transportation and cab services are still considered risky spaces for
infection, local governments decided to pedestrianise streets and broaden bike
lanes in cities such as New York, Berlin, Milan, Bogota, Barcelona, Mexico
City, Paris, Vienna, Sydney and Brussels.
and local governments have described it as a moment for mobility to change, an
approach that is still to be tested once the social distancing restrictions are
lifted, and the use of walking and biking is tested versus motorised
transportation such as motorbikes and cars.
affluence dropped to almost 40% in most major cities; some cities adopted temporary
measures implementing pop-up bike lanes while others fast-tracked bike
paths scheduled in the pre-corona city planning.
mobility adapting to a health crisis
One of the most relevant
examples of city mobility adapted to the health crisis is Paris. The region plans to invest
300 million euros in building 650 kilometres of pop-up and pre-planned
cycleway infrastructure. In an overnight operation
street workers blocked traffic and painted bike icons
streets into safe streets for biking.
lockdown and the decrease in car traffic accelerated the implementation of the
which is part of major Anne Hidalgo’s promise
to turn every street in Paris cycle-friendly by 2024.
introduced 20 kilometres of pop-up bike lanes, as Berlin Roads and Parks
Department official Felix Weisbrich called this a “pandemic-resilient
infrastructure.” As the pandemic has
accelerated the discussions in districts and municipal parliaments, public
officials can push for urban infrastructure to be implemented
ata faster speed than what the bouroucratic procedure would usually take.
city of Milan implemented the “Strade
Aperte” plan which contemplated the
transformation of 35
kilometres of city streets into either pedestrian or cyclists roads. The
Italian government issued bike-friendly traffic rules and promised people in
bigger cities to provide a subsidy of up to 60 per cent of the price for the
purchase of bicycles and e-scooters, up to a maximum of 500 euros.
planned to build a total of 40 kilometers of new cycle lanes.
While the British government announced an
emergency plan of 250 million pounds
set up pop-up bike lanes, safer junctions and cycle-only corridors.
Bogotá is one of the cities with the largest pop-up cycling lanes expansion
during the pandemic crisis as the city implemented 80km of temporary in-street
bikeways to supplement 550 km existing bike paths.
pop-up infrastructure like removable tape and mobile signs not only makes it
easier for people riding bikes to keep self-distancing,
but it also encourages people who would not cycle regularly to explore new ways
of transportation in a more comfortable space.
What about cars?
adaptation to COVID-19 is not always sustainable and resilient. The sanitary
measures present a risk as cars represent a tool for isolated mobility.
Car-centric cities may continue to be so as car use increases.
there is a higher demand for activities to restart under social distancing
conditions, many cities in Europe started embracing drive-in culture not only
for food but also for churches, cinemas and even concerts.
of drive-in entertainment alternatives take place in the outskirts of cities as
it is the case in Lithuania and Denmark. German car cinemas became
popular near Cologne, and the city of Schüttorf close to the border of Germany
and the Netherlands hosted a party in a drive-in club where the performer
invited people to “honk if they were having a good
the United States, famous for its drive-in culture, a strip club continued operation under this new modality that would allow people to
keep distance as the attendees stayed inside their cars.
drive-ins help entertainment industries to cope with the closures imposed by
the sanitary restrictions, there is a risk, especially in the suburbs, to
develop an even more motorised culture and a lifestyle that is more dependable
What can urban planning learn from past epidemics?
of the first examples of a city adapting to an epidemic is the cholera outbreak
mapped by John Snow which encouraged cities to
establish higher hygiene standards and prompted the relevance of statistical
data in city planning.
more recent outbreaks like the case of SARS epidemic that affected cities in
China, South East Asia and Canada highlighted the vulnerability of dense cities
to become arenas for a fast spread of the virus. Although
the use of public transportation was reduced in cities like Taipei, -the daily
ridership of public transportation decreased to 50% during
the peak of the 2003 SARS period– there is no significant evidence of a shift
toward sustainable transportation. The SARS epidemic provided
more examples of social control and exceptionalism than examples of sustainable
the case of Covid-19, even if urbanists hope for the outbreak to be a
significant opportunity to design more sustainable cities in the “new
normality”, and car sales have drastically dropped, there is hope in the car
industry for sales to rise once the distance regulations
are eased since people will opt for a car to comply with social distancing
Korea and China the fears of contracting the Coronavirus have already shown an
increase in the sales of cars and in the United States, according to the IBM study on Consumer Behavior Alterations, “More
than 20 percent
of respondents who regularly used buses, subways or
trains now said they no longer would, and
another 28 percent said they will likely use public transportation less often.”.
addition, they claim that “more
than 17 percent of people surveyed said that they intend to use their personal
vehicle more as a result of COVID-19, with approximately 1 in 4
saying they will use it as their exclusive mode of transportation
going forward.” .
this matter, public transportation might be the most affected in terms of
revenue, New York City metro system reported its worst
financial crisis as their ridership decreased by 90%, while London Underground
put one quarter of its staff in furlough as it has only been used at a 5% of
its capacity for the past months. Even
after the social distancing measures are eased, public transport might be
considered more hazardous than other means of transportation
and be the most affected financially.
Can city mobility restart in a resilient way?
the biggest part of the crisis has passed and we
will inhabit cities with eased
sanitary restrictions is still uncertain whether
mobility patterns will be affected in a permanent way. Further data will show
the coronavirus pandemic did encourage the creation of instruments for the
implementations of sustainable mobility or it perpetuated a car centered approach.
far, at a medium-term, the relevance of longer-trips has
been questioned, and work from home acquired
significance as an alternative to commutes. Trips are expected to be carried
out mostly by walking, cycling and driving a personal car
and the investment in cycling infrastructure will remain as a long-term outcome
of this pandemic.
outcomes of this experience can also have a long-term impact
as they will be documented
in guidelines and the experience will set a precedent for critical and
resilient responses for local governments.
For instance, the guide for temporary bike lanes
titled “Making a safe space for cycling in 10 days”, developed by the consultancy
Mobicon, delineates what should the first relevant action should
to keep safe distance while boosting more sustainable commutes.
restoration of activities in dense cities might not bring an
automatic radical change in mobility behaviour and policy but,
despite the circumstances, life under social distancing became an
actual experimental period that many urbanists have dreamed
of and many citizens had not experimented before.
relevant question now is whether we will be able to maintain partially closed
streets and broader bike lanes after lockdown restrictions are lifted once
cities get through this moment, hoping for planners, public officials and
citizens to recognise the perks of having more room and infrastructure for
The legal sector, considered as a system made of codes and laws that are not always easy to read, often interfaces with people’s lives. Due to the complexity of bureaucracy and legal language, defined by many authors as an intricate labyrinth of notions, paragraphs and articles, people feel inadequate and very often disoriented. In response to these difficulties, the idea has emerged that the legal system should be redefined in order to make it intelligible to everyone by employing a more linear and clear language. This process of legal innovation was developed through two important legal profiles: legal design and legal tech.
Indeed, the legal discipline has tried to improve the comprehensibility of legal language by abandoning, albeit partially, the so-called “scriptorum” of classical scholars through the use of Legal Design. In fact, the main purpose of this new legal instrument in the hands of new professional figures in the legal field was to limit the use of all technical terms, complex concepts and a particularly articulated syntax in order to facilitate the understandability of rules or contracts, taking into account the difficulty and needs of all relevant parties.
According to the Legal Design Lab of Stanford University, the notion of “design” indicates not only a simple aesthetic design, but also a completely new and innovative methodology that aims at creating intuitive results and legal tools through the employment of icons, graphic signs and argumentative maps in order to make law more transparent and understandable. The legal document is reshaped by resorting to illustrations and schemes, only the essential parts remain, in order to enable people who are not familiar with the legal sector to interact with the latter and understand it in the best way possible.
In Italy, the Bruno Kessler Foundation of Trento developed a project named “SIMPATICO” with the aim of simplifying legal language through the employment of artificial intelligence. The process created by the Foundation is structured around the prior analysis of the text and its consequent translation and adaptation to the needs and factual knowledge of the user, in order to achieve a final objective: to make the document comprehensible and decipherable by the reader. It has been recognized that digital development, which has been raging in every sector of the economy for over a decade, has also revolutionized the world of law and legal services, that more and more employ digital, fast, easy to understand and innovative systems.
professionals begin to be familiar with artificial intelligence, algorithms and
machine learning, as these tools enable them to combine legal skills with
innovative and highly technological solutions. In this context, professionals
feel the continuous and growing need to respond to and satisfy new needs,
including the reduction of time frames and the simplification of procedures
that have always been cumbersome.
According to Claudia Sandei, head of the Innovation Technology Law Lab (IITL) of Padova University, the figure of the legal professional is going to change in the next decade, as he will acquire competences and skills that will allow him to perform efficiently in the digital sector.
The early forms of legal tech were conceived at the end of 2000s, with the purpose of improving all the activities performed by law firms, including: acquisition of customers; monitoring of workflow; restructuring of information architecture; use of online space and cloud; as well as speeding up the management of relations with clients and institutions.
The rise of technology in the legal profession, in the
form of legal tech, fintech and insurtech, also represents an industrial trend
in technological development. In addition to the birth of tech boutiques and
companies with legal in-house, new technological developments have entered the
system. In 2019 there were significant decreases in the length of legal processes,
originated and favored by the implementation of platforms aimed at resolving
The United Kingdom and the United States are the
prodromal example of the digitalization process of courts and tribunals. In
fact, the two countries have encouraged the use of digital platforms to
facilitate the performance of legal processes in a virtual way, without the
need to be physically present in the courthouse. This, undoubtedly, takes on even
more importance in view of the pandemic that is raging on a global level. The
estimates regarding investments in
the digital revolution of the legal sector show the complexity of the increasing
digitalisation of law. In particular, in the two-year period 2018-2019, revenue
in the legal sector, notably the one employing legal tech instruments, exceeded 10.7 billion euro.
Moreover, according to Lawgeex, a contract review
platform, there are multiple types of tools relating to the world of legal
technology (the platform currently estimates about thirty of them). The impact
of new legal tech solutions, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and
intellectual property innovation, is absolutely disruptive and without
precedents. These new legal instruments not only guarantee the
production of tailor-made documents, shaped according to the needs of clients
and professionals, but also ensure the traceability of the various versions of each
document, allowing professionals to work simultaneously on the same document.
should be pointed out that, even though they may seem synonyms, there is a
remarkable difference between the notion of “legaltech”
and that of “lawtech”. Indeed, when we talk about legaltech, we refer
to the software and technologies that legal professionals use to simplify and
speed up their work; instead, the notion of “lawtech” identifies a
complexity of tools available to clients (legal chatbots, online markets).
To sum up, legal
technology is being developed in three main fields: 1) management of the law
firm through advanced control systems, 2) management and execution of practices
aimed at better administration of the same and, finally, 3) legal services to
the market, as platforms serving delivery services. As legal technology
continues to improve in all these areas, we can begin to imagine a future in
which legal tech tools will play an increasingly central role in the lives of
both professionals and clients, making the legal sector easier to understand
Oggi si è concluso il secondo incontro delle #pilloledisostenibilità organizzato dall’Università Luiss Guido Carli, che ha promosso, durante le festività pasquali, attività online riguardanti tematiche ambientali.
La Clinica Urbana Interdisciplinare di LabGov 2020 ha
aderito a questa bellissima iniziativa online organizzando due pillole di
sostenibilità per rendere green questo periodo di quarantena.
In particolare, giovedì insieme ai tutor della Clinica Urbana Interdisciplinare Alessio, Julianne e Francesco abbiamo visto come realizzare un Orto in Balcone utilizzando materiali riciclati, come bottiglie di plastica e tappi di sughero, insieme ad alcuni consigli su come essere più sostenibili: “lo sapevi che anche solo cancellando le vecchie mail puoi ridurre le emissioni di CO2 nell’ambiente?”; nell’incontro di oggi invece, insieme agli altri tutor Caterina, Lorenzo, Tommaso e Flaminia abbiamo visto come preparare del gel igienizzante per le mani, come disinfettare una mascherina e come riutilizzare rifiuti organici, che altrimenti, avrebbero un grande impatto sull’ambiente!
Per nuove iniziative, seguiteci sui nostri canali social e sulle nostre pagine.
Today ended the second meeting of #sustainabilitypills organized by Luiss Guido Carli University, which promoted, during the Easter holidays, online activities on environmental issues. The Urban Interdisciplinary Clinic of LabGov 2020 joined this beautiful online initiative by organizing two sustainability pills video tutorials to make this period of quarantine greener.
In particular, on Thursday together with the tutors of the Interdisciplinary Urban Clinic Alessio, Julianne and Francesco we saw how to create a Balcony Garden using recycled materials, such as plastic bottles and corks, together with some tips to be more sustainable: “did you know that even just by deleting spam emails you can reduce CO2 emissions into the environment? “.
In today’s meeting instead, together with other tutors, namely Caterina, Lorenzo, Tommaso and Flaminia we saw how to prepare hand sanitizing gel, how to disinfect a mask and how to transform an organic waste into beauty cosmetics. We encourage everybody to follow this sustainability pills to reduce the negative impact that some activities have on the environment!
For new initiatives follow us on our social channels and pages.
LabGov keeps going on digitally! On March 13th from 4 to 6pm, the third workshop of the Urban Clinic will take place in a surprising way. Indeed, all the students will meet in the virtual classroom 203. The Urban Clinic will host Azzurra Spirito, community-led project designer. She will introduce the concepts of service design, design process and storytelling for a process of Open and Collaborative innovation to the LabGovers, with the scope of improving their projects.
On Saturday 14th, we will move forward with the project, supported by Azzurra Spirito expert in project design, Elena de Nictolis Luiss Research Fellow and Alessandro Piperno, PhD student Management Luiss. The co-working will take place in the virtual classroom 305a from 10am to 5pm. Students will first work together to define the personas and the customer decision journey of their project while in the afternoon they will work in groups to create the investor pitch of their project idea.
If you are interested in finding out how our project keeps going in a digital way, follow us on our social channels Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!
The Milanese architecture firm “Stefano Boeri Architetti”, who projected the Vertical Forest in Milan, designed the plan for the first Smart Forestry City that will be based in Cancun, Mexico. It is expected to host up to 130.000 inhabitants, by replacing the project of a shopping center. The city will be built on a 5.57 km2, currently employed as a “sand quarry for hotels” (Endel 2019) and 4 km2 will be reserved for green spaces. There will be about 7.500.000 plants in the project and 260.000 will be trees. With a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, the Smart Forest City “will absorb 116.000 tons of carbon dioxide with 5.800 tons of CO2 stocked per year” (Endel 2019). Public parks, private gardens, green roofs, and green facades will help create a balance within the built environment.
The city has also been imagined to be completely food and energy self-sufficient. Indeed, it will be surrounded by solar panels and agricultural fields. Water will be gathered at the entrance of the city, next to the desalination tower and dispensed by a system of navigable channels in the whole settlement up to the agricultural fields that surround the urban area. Within the city, people will circulate via internal electric and semi-automatic mobility, leaving their cars outside of the city.
The Smart Forest City will also hold “a center for advanced research that could host all worldwide university departments, international organizations, and companies that deal with very important sustainability issues and the future of the planet” (Endel 2019).
The Smart Forest City definitely promotes the idea of sustainable city. In fact, the project seems to create a perfect habitat where human beings can live in total harmony with nature within the urban space. Apparently, this sounds like a perfect solution in a scenario where urbanization is expected to rise in the next years and climate change needs to be handled with innovative solutions. Indeed, this project not only seems to support the idea of reducing urban sprawl by creating dense and compact settlements, but it also seems to avoid one of the main challenges that urban density can bring, which is the lack of green space on urban footprints. Thus, one of the main critiques to the urban density discourse has been the idea that if land is consumed for increasing urban development, areas devoted to green will be necessarily reduced. However, the Smart forest city represents an anti-sprawl and densification project able to reduce urban expansion while increasing the quantity of green within the built city. “A model that connects to the policies for reforestation and naturalization of the edges of large urban and metropolitan areas” (Kucherova and Narvaez 2018: 5). In fact, as the Stefano Boeri Architetti firm’s manifesto states, the reforestation of the urban environment can be an extraordinary help to improve the quality of health and life in a city. Indeed, forests and trees absorb nearly 40% of fossil fuel emissions largely produced by cities every year.
However, there are some challenges which are not self-evident when looking at these projects. First, instead of building sustainable cities or eco-cities out of nowhere, believing that higher densities are necessarily good, planners may better consider that urban design is not enough to make cities more sustainable. As Laurence Crot highlighted, Masdar City (a planned city project initiated in 2006 in the United Arab Emirates) portrayed as the world first sustainable city and the example of Abu Dhabi’s new urban vision, has soon renounced to some of its most ambitious sustainability goals (2012: 2809) such as its car-free mission. Masdar City has been recently rebranded as a carbon neutral project and its previous zero-carbon commitment soon disappeared from the policy agenda. Indeed, eco-cities projects instead of representing the panacea for main environmental and urban challenges seem just able to bring a new label to neoliberal urban development plans, since they rarely innovate and seldom keep their promises of sustainability (Cugurullo 2018: 74). Another weakness associated with these brand-new urban solutions relates the issue of who could really afford to live in eco-cities or smart forestry city. In fact, density increases the price of land and in turn increases the price of housing. Moreover, reforestation means bringing new amenities in the built environment which represents a new source of housing unaffordability.
Though a project as the Smart Forest City represents a perfect solution to reduce urban sprawl and pollution by increasing green space in cities at the same time; cities are more than their urban form. So, bringing urban design solutions to make cities more sustainable will not work alone, it can only be part of the answer. In fact, as Neuman pointed out, instead of asking ourselves if urban form can produce sustainability, we should question whether the processes of building cities, living, consuming and producing in cities are actually sustainable.
Edel, D. (2019), Smart Forest City Cancun Design Is First 100% Renewable Circular Economy City, Available from: https://www-intelligentliving-co.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.intelligentliving.co/amp/smart-forest-city-cancun-first-renewable-circular-economy-city
 Stefano Boeri Architetti (2019), Smart Forest City Cancun, Press release available from: https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/urban-forestry/
Kucherova, A. and Narvaez, H. (2018), Urban Forest Revolution, E3S Web of Conferences 33, 01013, pp. 1-11.
Stefano Boeri Architetti (2019), Smart Forest City Cancun, Press release available from: https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/urban-forestry/
Crot, L. (2012), Planning for Sustainability in Non-democratic Polities: The Case of Masdar City, Urban Studies 50(13), pp. 2809–2825.
Cugurullo, F. (2018), Exposing smart cities and eco-cities: Frankenstein urbanism and the sustainability challenges of the experimental city, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 2018, Vol. 50(1), pp. 73–92.
Neuman, M. (2005), The Compact City Fallacy, Journal of Planning Education and Research 25, pp. 11-26