The popular, healthier trend of outdoor dining, morphing car parks into restaurants, is an example of the temporary projects that are providing new ways for people to eat, cycle, use public spaces and—yes—dine in the time of a global pandemic.
These temporary projects have served as an impactful metropolitan experiment, one sure to have short- and long-term effects on the way we shape cities post-pandemic.
Another of these experiments revolved around pop-up bike lanes. A short-term plan that people really tended to favour. One could walk or bike to an outdoor café at will—always a pleasant experience.
Tactical urbanism is the term that defines this application of new ideas, with busy intersections becoming pedestrian plazas and such—with all changes being made quickly and without exorbitant cost.
People don’t always like the idea of change—until they see the change in action, via tactical urban experiments. Until they can try out the idea, only to find that their initial fears and concerns were not founded.
In 2008, Copenhagen introduced wider bike lanes and bus-only regions painted with sizable red dots. Experimenting gave way to public feedback and evaluation, which result finally in the tweaking and enhancement of the design.
Experiments bring imagination to life. People might imagine how things could be better in the urban landscape—and via a visible change, they see their dream in action.
City planners in particular love to enact change—but to do so through temporary projects can be difficult. They face rules and laws about what can and can’t be done in public places.
Yet in the wake of a global pandemic, a time during which quick and temporary projects were a requirement, not a luxury, planners were able to showcase new ideas—and to most successful effect. In essence, experimentation gave birth to innovation.