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Cities and buildings concept revisited: The importance of its balance with the natural space

By Liliana Soares, Senior Partner S+A Green Lab

We still know little about the real impact this pandemic will have. We know, however, that we will feel it and we all hope that some positive initiatives may emerge from this period.

This will be the case for all areas, but I would like to highlight some of the opportunities that seem important to me for the environment and sustainable development, particularly in the context of cities and buildings.

We all remember the news that began to emerge about our cities only a few days after much of the world was in lockdown: the quality of the air improving significantly, the wild animals that began to invade urban spaces or the smog that, inexistent, allowed us to achieve forgotten visibilities.

With every piece of news that came out, it seemed more evident how disharmonious most of our urban spaces are: it took just days for deer, dolphins and other animals to reoccupy spaces that they should never have vacated.

Other important news has drawn our attention to the risks we run each time we press and occupy natural spaces. Deforestation is more than a loss of natural space; it is also a risk of contact with diseases and viruses to which our immune system does not know how to react. There is a biological balance that is important to maintain in each ecosystem and what sometimes may seem exaggerated to us when we see our projects subject to environmental restrictions is no more than ensuring that this balance is not lost.

We who work in the area of sustainability have this challenge, that of ensuring that the parties are linked with a common purpose and that, almost without this being perceptible, we can act as mediators of that purpose: that of ensuring a balanced world.

On another scale, reflecting on the daily lives of many of us, perhaps now is the time to rethink our homes, our spaces and our habits. After all, many can work at home and perhaps a significant part of our daily commute is just unnecessary. After all, the piles of paper we had to submit for licensing and the like can be replaced by digital formats.

No one has ever wished or imagined that we would be facing a pandemic, but it is here and, in short, it would be good for you to help us rethink:

• Our cities and how important it is that we ensure the balance of urban and natural space, reduce air emissions and promote the well-being of their inhabitants;

• Our workspaces and how our work can be developed by intercalating the physical with the digital, the face-to-face activities with the remote activities;

• Our homes that can and should be multifunctional, flexible and adaptable.

Finally, I would like to share with you some positive news (and thank you Miguel for sharing it) about “European alliance for a green recovery” launched by some members of the European Parliament with the support of some important international organisations.

Let this be the beginning of a sustainable recovery.

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