Urban Wellness Market

category - covid-19
category - placemaking
category - future city
sector - health & wellness
type - market focus
Market Focus
Consumers are re-appraising what it means to be well. Post-Covid-19, they will demand higher levels of urban health and more civic cities

Covid-19 has brought with it a re-awakening of Wellness Architecture. Brands must look beyond the immediacy of the pandemic to a future in which collective health is paramount.

The rapid spread of the virus has undoubtedly transformed how we view and value our planet. ‘Covid-19 awakens us to an alternative, truer reality: each of us in our home eco-systems is part of an interconnected system that we have the power to change,’ says James Rogers, founder and CEO of Apeel Sciences.

As consumers consider their own un-environmentally friendly behaviour, they will demand that brands reduce their impact on air pollution, and will also expect to see cities with social distancing and sanctuary spaces built in.

Smog life

Since 2017 we have been exploring how businesses can navigate the air pollution crisis. Now, research shows that poor-quality air is a major contributor to Covid-19 deaths, with 78% of fatalities in Italy, Spain, France and Germany occurring in the most polluted regions. The Covid-19 pandemic has restricted our global movements and forced countries to curb their industrial emissions. We have witnessed significant improvements to air quality and benefits to wildlife, ocean health and natural landscapes.

On a mission to heal India’s cities, Let Me Breathe is a platform that invites young activists to visually document the country’s dangerous pollution levels through digital storytelling. When lockdown is lifted, the collective will plant 50,000 trees in honour of Earth Day. Meanwhile in London, CentricLab is working with land developers and urban planners to shape its insight into the relationship between Covid-19 and urban wellness. The lab is hoping businesses will take the pandemic as an opportunity to restructure cities around clean air and the health of marginalised people.

Some cities are looking at eco-friendly transport options. Milan, for example, has announced plans to transform 35km of street space away from cars to focus on cycling and walking, in a post-lockdown strategy titled Open Streets.

Published by:

17 November 2020

Author: Holly Friend

Image: The Tide at Greenwich Peninsula, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, London


Parc de la Distance by Precht

Salubrious streets

The presence of Covid-19 means that many civic areas are now daunting to approach but with social distancing possibly in place until 2022, according to Harvard researchers, urban planners must consider how cities can thrive under these restrictions.

High street retailers will face novel challenges when we emerge from lockdown because many consumers have become used to shopping close to home. Half of Americans are planning to support local businesses while independent retailers in Britain are booming, with 23% of consumers purchasing more often from their corner shops (source: YouGov).

Given these hyper-localised mindsets, retailers will need to find ways to entice people back into public spaces. The Hyperlocal Micromarket is a low-risk method of enabling street food markets to operate while allowing people to remain socially distant. The design consists of 16 square grids and can be easily replicated in other settings to enable safe shopping.

An urban design proposed for Vienna applies this concept to a public park. Precht envisages how a maze-like park would guide visitors on a 20-minute solitary walk, with one person entering each lane at a time. ‘There is a beauty in solitude and in connection to nature that people in the city often miss,’ says co-founder Chris Precht. ‘Sometimes you have to get away from everything to fully reconnect. For that we meditate, hike or go on silent retreats. This park is a short version of that.’

‘As urban planners face the future likelihood of global pandemics, they are having to consider new ways of placemaking to suit both safety and economic concerns’
Shift Architecture Urbanism

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