Rethinking rules and social practices. The design of urban spaces in the post-Covid-19 lockdown

Keywords: City, Architecture, Rule, Ontological analysis, Social practice


In the last months a pandemic has changed the daily life of billions of people. Among the efforts to reduce the impact of the disease, social distancing has had huge consequences and raised may concerns, from the inadequacy of contemporary urban design to the social inequality of national and regional lockdown. This paper focuses on the consequences that this experience is having on the design of urban public and private areas. Everybody admits that our cities are going to change but, beside the first quick adaptation to social distancing, it is unclear how to rethink today’s urban areas. We start from our previous work on the classification of architectural rules and on the study of how creativity is expressed via architectural rules, to discuss the principles and social aspects of newly proposed designs. The motivation for this analysis is to investigate and raise awareness of the consequences of changes in social practices: given that we are in need for new structures and service organization, we can still make choices and should balance the positive and negative aspects of these design alternatives. The community should be aware, as much as possible, of the intrinsic forces that novel solutions exert on our social system and urban environment. This work shows just one way to analyse architectural design, and should be considered as a contribution to a much needed broad and inclusive discussion about how we want urban spaces to be.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Maria Rosaria Stufano Melone, Dicatech, Politecnico di Bari

Post-doc researcher at the Polytechnic of Bari, Italy. Her research interests are spatial cognition in environmental planning, memory and creativity management in urban planning and design, decision support systems, ontological analysis applied ontologies as method to manage knowledge in designing and planning processes. She has published and delivered research papers in national and international journals and conferences.

Stefano Borgo, Laboratory for Applied Ontology, ISTC National Research Council, Trento, Italia

Head of the Laboratory for Applied Ontology (LOA), a unit of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC) of CNR, he studied mathematics and computer science at the University of Padova, Indiana University and the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. His research focuses on applied ontology and information modelling methodologies with applications in robotics, engineering, cyber-physical and socio-technical systems. Areas of application include engineering design, product and process modelling, laboratory data, urban planning and architecture. He is in the Editorial Board of Applied Ontology and the Semantic Web Journal, and member of the Advisory Board of the International Association on Ontology and its Applications (IAOA).


Bahadursingh, N. (2020). 8 Ways COVID-19 Will Change Architecture. Architizer, inspiration/industry/covid19-city-design/.

Bedford, J., Farrar, J., Ihekweazu, C., Kang, G., Koopmans, M. & Nkengasong, J. (2019). A new twenty-first century science for effective epidemic response. Nature, 575, 130-136.

Borgo, S., Stufano Melone M.R. (2019). How architectural rules make room for cre- ativity: An ontology-driven analysis. In TriCoLore 2018 Creativity - Cognition - Computation. Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, December 13-15, 2018. 2347, 1-11.

Block, I. (2020). Christophe Gernigon proposes suspended Plex'eat hoods for post-virus dining in restaurants. Dezeen,

Guarino, N. (2015). Ontology-driven Participatory Governance for Resilient Sociotechnical. 19th European Colloquium on Theoretical and Quantitative Geography. Bari (Italy), 3-7 September 2015. Invited key note lecture.

Hitti, N. (2020). Rimbin is an "infection-free" playground concept designed to look like water lilies. Dezeen,

Knobler, S.L., Mack, A., Mahmoud, A., & Lemon, S.M. (2005). The story of influenza. In Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats, Knobler, S.L., Mack, A., Mahmoud, A., & Lemon, S.M. (Eds.). The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? Workshop Summary. Washington: National Academies Press.

Lichfield, G. (2020). We’re not going back to normal. MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2020.

Pevsner. N. (1936). Pioneers of the modern movement from William Morris to Walter Gropius. London: Faber & Faber.

Ravenscroft, T. (2020). Precht designs Parc de la Distance for outdoor social distancing. Dezeen,

Rothstein, M.A. (2015). From SARS to Ebola: legal and ethical considerations for modern quarantine. Indiana Health Law Review, 12(1), 227-280.

Spinney, L. (2017). Pale rider: the Spanish flu of 1918 and how it changed the world. London: Jonathan Cape.

How to Cite
Stufano Melone, M. R., & Borgo, S. (2020). Rethinking rules and social practices. The design of urban spaces in the post-Covid-19 lockdown. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 333-341.
Special Issue - Covid-19 vs City-20