Reimagining the experience of the CBD
The ideal post-pandemic city will be a destination, transformed from a place primarily of business to a vibrant, surprising centre of culture and life. Even if there is only a minor shift away in the city office population, supporting cultural, hospitality and tourism businesses will remain a priority.
It will also be important to awaken and reoccupy public spaces. The aim should be to lure people into the CBD; then give them a great experience they can relay back to their friends.
So, think more pedestrianised areas like Sydney’s George Street, supported by cycle paths and other active transport facilities. During the pandemic, many cities experimented by converting streets formerly filled with cars into pedestrian zones and COVID-safe outdoor dining.
New York is now making its Open Streets program permanent, closing off daytime cars so people can socialise, eat along sidewalks, enjoy exercise classes and soak up art and culture.
Munich’s inner-city aims to be virtually free of cars by 2040, using park and ride schemes and cycle lanes.
London is converting its Oxford Circus culture and nightlife precinct into two fully pedestrianised piazzas to create a new city landmark. It is also revitalising high streets and unlocking more areas for neighbourhood enjoyment.
Another focus for cities is urban greening initiatives to invite a sense of oasis and escape.
Seoul has a vision of a pedestrian-friendly metropolis connected by forested paths. Vienna is rewilding its inner suburbs. Paris has a program to convert schoolyards into open nature gardens where the community can gather outside of class hours. Even the Champs Elysees is becoming a green avenue of cycle lanes, dotted gardens and tree tunnels.