Our award-winning reporting has moved

Context provides news and analysis on three of the world’s most critical issues:

climate change, the impact of technology on society, and inclusive economies.

Children reimagine cities with paper and glue amid coronavirus lockdowns

by Amber Milne | @hiyaimamber | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 16:26 GMT

From skyscrapers to green spaces, children around the world are using paper to reimagine cities

Coronavirus is changing the world in unprecedented ways. Subscribe here for a daily briefing on how this global crisis is affecting cities, technology, approaches to climate change, and the lives of vulnerable people. 

By Amber Milne

LONDON, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From "fantastical skyscrapers" to sprawling green spaces, children are creating their own cities while under lockdown, using designs from a renowned British architecture studio.

Foster + Partners' project, which includes drawing trees and building skyscrapers from paper cut outs, aims to get children to think about how they interact with the world around them, including the importance of soothing parks and gardens.

"We know the value of educating and enthusing children with architecture and their built environment from an early age," said Katy Harris of Foster + Partners, which has built many famous landmarks like London's City Hall, nicknamed The Onion.

"How we design the buildings that we live in and work in is important ... they can affect the way we live and our wellbeing," Harris, a senior partner, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Coronavirus: our latest stories

The studio plans to create 10 tasks to inspire children and keep them busy during coronavirus lockdowns.

It has already received submissions from children across the world, including Australia, Canada, Cambodia and Spain.

Urban experts say cities will need major design innovations in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic to become more self-reliant, improve food security, reduce population densities and create more room for pedestrians.

The coronavirus crisis would not be the first time that an epidemic has led to changes in city planning, research shows.

Cholera outbreaks in the 1830s led to better sanitation in London, while a tuberculosis epidemic in New York in the early 20th century paved the way for improved public transit systems and housing regulations.

Future architects will likely design cities differently, Harris said, from enabling social distancing in outside spaces to reconsidering offices as working from home becomes the norm.

"Our ... teams are all looking at this now - how do we design for social distancing?" Harris said. "Our architects are already working on modifications to our own workplace to address social distancing and living with the virus."


Life after lockdown: Cities around the world roll out their reopening plans

ANALYSIS-Urban farms to traffic bans: Cities prep for post-coronavirus future

(Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.