The Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) has today launched the #OurChangedPlaceNI initiative.
Over the coming weeks and months the built environment must change extensively to enable a resumption of more social and economic activities whilst minimising the transmission of COVID-19. The changes should also aim to leave a lasting legacy of cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions, improved well-being and economic resilience.
COVID-19 is impacting on everyone in Northern Ireland and therefore we believe that the conversation on the changes to our physical environment is one that everyone in society should be involved in.
The #OurChangedPlaceNI initiative calls on residents, parents, children, business owners, workers and everyone who is interested, to post on social media your ideas of the changes you would like to see to your area during this COVID-19 period using the hashtag #OurChangedPlaceNI.
Think about the competing demands on space arising from factors including:
- social distancing of pedestrians
- queues outside shops or for public transport
- food and beverage businesses seeking to re-open (in due course) with tables in the public realm
- safe space for everyday cycling for people of all ages and particularly school children
- space for cycle parking
- space for motor vehicles
Make your post about a particular place – a street, area, village – that you know well or suggest an overarching solution to a number of challenges.
Present your idea any way you wish – words, drawings, photos, a quick sketch, scribbles on a map etc.
There is no single solution and it can get complex. Each street and area must be assessed to address its own specific needs. The people and the businesses of the area need to be engaged and help shape the changes. The #OurChangedPlaceNI initiative is our first step to get that conversation going.
This is a fast-moving initiative. The time for action is now. #OurChangedPlaceNI.
Launching the initiative Joan McCoy, RSUA President said:
“There is widespread recognition that for society to function better over the coming weeks, months and perhaps years, our physical environment must change extensively. This is not a time for minor tweaks but for big, bold, ambitious changes that not only facilitate a resumption of social and economic activities in the short-term but also leave a lasting legacy of cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions and improved well-being.
“In the very short term as increasing numbers of people return to their workplace it is not enough to encourage people to walk, run or cycle to work. The Government must create safe space to enable this whilst maintaining full access for people with impaired mobility. There are low cost temporary measures that can be taken quickly which will require the sacrificing of car lanes to put people first.”
“This would be a big challenge on its own but we must also factor in the space required for people queueing outside shops, increased spacing at crossing points and outdoor space for some businesses like cafes to expand into when they are allowed to re-open. By September we need the infrastructure in place to enable the majority of children to safely get to school on foot or bicycle.”
“This is an enormous task. There is no single solution. Each street and area must be assessed to address its own specific needs. The people and the businesses of the area need to be engaged and help shape the changes. The #OurChangedPlaceNI initiative is our first step to get that conversation going.”