Image credits: PatoLenin
News Article

What Will Cities Look Like in the Future?

By Alessa Flores | Thu, 10/29/2020 - 18:03

With the arrival of the COVID-19, we began to rethink the way we relate to people, spaces and environments. What will cities look like after COVID-19? What is the future of architecture and urban planning in a post-pandemic world? The World Resources Institute (WRI) Mexico, in partnership with organizations, local governments and businesses, launched a Sustainable Revolution Roadmap to help outline a strategy that will not only drive economic recovery but guide different key players to make this country more resilient, sustainable, egalitarian and inclusive.

“Social problems have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic that have become visible in a short period of time. We need to create more sustainable, inclusive and resilient ways of life that help reduce social inequalities,” said Adriana Lobo, Executive Director of WRI Mexico, in an exclusive interview with MBN.

The cities of the future will be planned, built and inhabited from a sustainable perspective. They will promote spaces to be inhabited and used by people, especially pedestrians, favoring activity, connectivity, accessibility and inclusiveness, explains the company Paisaje Transversal.

Sustainability impacts people's lives from a mobility, household, food and consumption standpoint, among others. In terms of mobility, COVID-19 forced us to look at crowded spaces like the public transportation system. People who were able to use their cars continued to do so. However, about 80 percent of the mobility in Mexico relies on public transportation, according to INEGI figures. Cities adopted different protocols to ensure mobility while limiting contagion risks. In Jalisco, the government suspended public transportation at nights and on weekends, while in Mexico City, 54km of bicycle lanes were set up to help people get around on bicycles and avoid overcrowding the subway and Metrobús. 

The Ministry of Mobility of Mexico City (SEMOVI) proposes to transform the public transportation system to decentralize it and connect it to facilitate mobility for all inhabitants. “Mobility is not exempt from inequality and people who live farther away spend up to 30 percent of their income on transportation every day. Gender inequality is also an issue, as women face different risks than men. Based on this, SEMOVI developed a Strategic Mobility Plan based on three guiding principles: integration, improvement and protection,” said María Fernanda Rivera Flores, General Director of Road Safety and Sustainable Urban Mobility Systems at the Ministry of Mobility to MBN. Mobility after COVID-19 will be based on the risk of transmission, health and environmental impacts, as well as access and use of urban space. 

The pandemic also made us rethink housing. While every person has the right to adequate housing as a fundamental pillar for the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights, this is not truly the case. INEGI estimates that 15 percent of households in Mexico are rented, with 22.1 percent of the family’s income destined to pay rent. It is also estimated that in Mexico, there are more than 31.4 million homes housing over 120 million Mexicans reside. Following the loss of 1 million formal jobs and wage reductions of between 20 and 50 percent, tenants are left in a precarious situation. 

Claudia Sheinbaum, Head of Government of Mexico City, has planned 12 corridors in which private construction for social housing is being reactivated. The new projects have been approved with the condition that 30 percent of the housing being built falls under the social housing category. “We want this process to help household decentralization, avoiding gentrification and that the less economically favored families are forced to move to the peripheries of the city," Sheinbaum explained to Excelsior. 

Photo by:   PatoLenin
Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst