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Emergent Market Designs Employed for Healthy and Equitable Semi-Public/Public Spaces During COVID-19




11: Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty Supervisor:

Kate Mytty

Faculty email:


Apply by:

June 1, 2020



Project Description

As we seek to safely and equitably reconfigure our urban spaces for public gatherings and economies, this research responds by creating a living guide to observed, recommended and required responses for how workplaces in public or semi-public spaces can and are being reimagined within the COVID-19 reality. This research will focus on both the physical changes developed for safety across the value chain and the practices for continuing to build community, communicate and exchange goods and services. Our aim is to produce a graphical analysis and summary that presents, interprets and applies the recommended guidance from international or national health authorities (like the World Health Organization) to workplaces; consolidates existing design efforts by markets, vendors, recyclers and transport operators; and speculates about other possible designs that can support safe, healthy markets. We will use this also as a platform to explore, present and discuss COVID19 implications for present and future realities for markets. This research will have two outputs: 1) a collaborative, living document that shares weekly outputs of this research to serve as a resource for addressing the emergent challenges of COVID-19; 2) a comprehensive summary document. Our aim is that these materials can be utilized by individuals, organizations and municipal governments as they seek feasible, relevant, thoughtful and safe pathways forward for public markets and services within their cities. Methodology We will use participatory action research to center the goal of action and application of the research, while building from existing experiences and perspectives of individuals and organizations working in semi-public or public spaces. Our aim is to engage collaborators and input from at least 6 cities around the world (including Durban, South Africa; Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; Delhi, India; Cairo, Egypt; New York City, USA; Bogota, Colombia and Lagos, Nigeria). We will work with our existing collaborators and also identify new collaborators (see proposed list below) who can collaborate, inform, remix and use the results of our collective efforts through this research. Our methodology centers three main steps to identify existing design opportunities, challenges and modifications in semi-public/public workplaces: 1- Survey of social media to document visual, video, and text examples. These social media examples would be identified across Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter through both relevant hashtags (such as #streetvendor, #catadores, #markets) and through relevant accounts (such as street vending, transport or market organizations) 2- Review of existing reports and articles whether academic or from relevant organizations. For instance, Asiye eTafuleni has documented some of their early efforts around design changes in Durban, South Africa. 3- Review and interpretation of health professionals advice around safety and health precautions. Recommendations from organizations like the World Health Organization or other recognized national or international authorities would be interpreted as to how their recommendations would apply to semi-public/public spaces. Our analysis would incorporate two main steps: 1- Categorizing the types of designs employed. For this, we would identify and analyze the resources employed for the design and the goals and applications of the design (for instance, can this be used at point-of-sale locations for street vendors or for recyclers). 2- Conduct a value chain gap analysis that looks at the various steps and stakeholders to identify areas for new designs.


Experience with graphic design to be able to support the graphic imagery side of this effort