May 26, 2020

Common Edge Publishes David Polzin's Piece on the Future of Being Social

David Polzin, our Executive Director of Design, has written a new piece on The Future of Being Social for Common Edge, a site and organization dedicated to reconnecting architecture and design with the public that it’s meant to serve.

In his piece, David shares thoughts on how both people and the built environment can be adaptable and resilient in the face of crisis.

Respective to COVID-19, he writes, “During this pandemic we have rightfully relied on epidemiologists and virologists, government officials and the media to tell us the risks we are facing. Yet our own personal perceptions of risk vary among us, and even evolve over time. And while in-person socialization may look a little different when we emerge in a post-COVID-19 world, it is not going away. We will be coming together again. Our ability to adapt to new circumstances is remarkable.”

David’s full piece is available online. Here’s another excerpt:

Endurance: We will adapt to pandemic cycles
Even as experts warn of a second wave of infections,the shockwaves to our personal, business, community and societal systems will be less dramatic if it does occur. Why? We have already quickly developed the coping mechanisms to deal with a major public health crisis at each of these scales. In a sense, Covid-19 was training for the next pandemic.

Being adaptive means anticipating disruption. Human beings are inherently hardwired to be adaptive, and our best buildings and environments are designed to anticipate change and disruption. At an urban scale, this resilience is demonstrated best by ancient cities that have been continuously inhabited up to today. Many of the oldest inhabited cities are in the Middle East –think Baghdad, Aleppo and Jerusalem.One has only to imagine the millennia of conflict these cities have endured to think about universal design principles that have allowed them to survive: density, mixed uses, public spaces for social interaction, and the re-purposing of old structures for new uses.

These principles apply at the building scale, too. Enduring materials, flexible spaces, multiple uses shared within a single structure,and a diversity of spatial scales to accommodate different types of interaction are ultimately qualities that equip a building to endure crises and even wholesale societal shifts and still be relevant for use and habitation. And, as these buildings do so, their cultural value only grows with their demonstrated resilience, making them more meaningful to us as they sustain themselves.

Read David’s piece on Common Edge >