Corona Files Public Green

Public Space as an Antidote

As the city awakens from its imposed hibernation, this seems a good moment to cast a first glance on public space from a (mental) health perspective; urban parks as an anti-dote.

At the start of the first lockdown venturing into public space was perceived as dangerous and even perilous to one’s health (our own and others). While The Netherlands permitted ‘sanity walks’ to break quarantine, walk the (inner) dog or run essential errands, public life generally stood still. Instead, the home became the school, office, yoga studio, playground, shop, cinema, restaurant,…

But as it became clear that the chance to contract the virus is much smaller outdoors, people increasingly went out, to free themselves from the limited horizon of home isolation. Public space and, specifically, parks, offer an opportunity to escape, stretch the legs, catch a breath of fresh air and have a distanced, ‘safe’ interaction with other people.

The irony that the city’s lungs, public parks, were closed during the first lockdown, and that a prevalent symptom of Covid-19 is shortness of breath, is not lost on me.