Libraries and churches. Youth clubs and village halls. Parks and markets. These are all places that help to support and sustain the public life of our communities—from large cities to villages. They are pieces of social infrastructure, and are essential for our collective physical and mental wellbeing. The Covid-19 crisis caused many of these places to close, and the social recovery from the virus depends on their reopening.
While Covid-19 is above all a public health crisis, it is also one of design. How we occupy and use space have become profound and urgent questions, and design has a vital role in helping to answer them.
The Covid-19 Safer Spaces project has been developed by architects IF_DO to help public places to reopen safely.
Funded by Innovate UK, the series of easy-to-use guides will help anyone who works in public places to understand how adapt them to enable their safe reopening and operation. The current guides are available to download below, with others coming soon.
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People of all backgrounds come together in public libraries, and they help to foster stronger and more resilient communities. The Covid-19 Safer Libraries guide has been developed in partnership with Libraries Connected and CILIP, the library and information association, to support libraries to safely reopen, helping them to serve their communities once again. Guide now revised and updated.
The network of churches around the UK are part of the historic and social fabric of the country. They serve the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of parishioners, and support and help many others who are in need. The Covid-19 Safer Churches guide has been developed in partnership with the Church of England, to help churches reopen and worship safely again.
The pandemic saw radical changes to our streets. Pavements were temporarily widened, pop up cycle lanes were installed and roads were closed to traffic to make more space for people. The Covid-19 Safer Streets guide has been developed with Street Space to support local authorities move from recovery to resilience in the design of our public realm.
Youth clubs are fundamental in providing a place for young people to come together with their friends, to express themselves, and to be supported to become the best they can be. The Covid-19 Safer Youth Clubs guide has been developed in partnership with UK Youth to help youth clubs reopen safely to work with young people in person again.
Whether for birthday parties, bingo, or bake sales, community centres and village halls provide a space for people of all ages and interests to come together. The Covid-19 Safer Community Centres guide has been developed in partnership with ACRE and Clarion Futures to help village halls and community centres open their doors once again.
Covered Markets play an essential role in the economic and social life of communities, towns and cities across the country. The Covid-19 Safer Covered Markets guide has been developed in partnership with NABMA, the National Association of British Markets, to assist staff and traders in adapting their markets to enable safer operation and greater resilience for the future.
The economic impact of Covid-19 resulted in a significant increase in the need for food bank services. Food banks offer more than just food, including social interaction and signposting to other services. The Covid-19 Safer Food Banks guide has been developed in partnership with The Trussell Trust, to help food bank managers and volunteers to adapt their spaces to serve their communities safely.