Due to the unprecedented global pandemic and subsequent measures to control the spread of COVID-19, cities have had to quickly re-evaluate the importance and use of public, accessible places around us, and acknowledge that the quality of outdoor spaces shapes our quality of life. In the summer of 2020, the Spaces for People programme was implemented throughout Scotland to help people engage with city centres (e.g. walk, cycle, commute, meet, shop) more safely in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In Aberdeen, the programme introduced: widened pavements, outdoor seating, marquees, planting and the partial pedestrianisation of Union Street (from Market to Bridge Street), among other things. Although the programme was implemented in the interests of public health, it saw the introduction of changes that might otherwise be used in urban design to create more people-friendly spaces. This is to say that these changes would support people to meet, relax, socialise, and interact with each other and with the city, with potential benefits for mental and physical health. It has also been argued that attractive places can increase footfall, helping to increase the economic prosperity of the area. This research explored whether such a programme could become a catalyst for a post-pandemic revival and transition to a healthier, more resilient Aberdeen.
BELKOURI, D., KHAIRY, L. and LAING, R. 2021. Is what cities need what people want? An evaluation of "Spaces for people" in Aberdeen city centre, in order to ensure post-pandemic-induced people-first approach to future sustainable public life. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University.