Pandemic Architecture, an International Ideas Competition curated by the Design Ambassador for,  invited the creative community to open up a dialogue and create a think tank, looking for ideas from the architectural and design community about the future of the living, the workspace, the public space and the tourism industry after the outbreak of Covid-19.

NATIVE CIRCLE, was shortlisted in top 50 out of 440 projects.

-text by the authors


In the present day, the strict quarantine regime is about to finish in many European countries and to be substituted with partial restrictions.
We still do not know how long will be this second phase, will we return to the lifestyle we had before Covid-19 or will the pandemic will fade away completely or will come another one.

As we live in Milan, Italy – the big touristic city with European architectural fabric – we ask ourselves: how will be the use of open public spaces right after the strict quarantine? Before, these spaces were the hot-points for tourists and citizens for everyday life, weekends, holidays.
Now the main and crucial restriction is social distancing which makes impossible close chaotic interactions between people and, at the same time, the big open space does not have any instruments itself to separate somehow the flows – it was created to make people interact.


In our case study, we chose the Piazza del Duomo – the principal square of Milan – as the example of the common type of dense touristic city square and developed the general strategy which can be applied to any public space of this type.

Our main idea is to develop the strategy for social distancing through the instruments which are solving (to some extent) the problem of extra-hot summer temperatures at the level of the micro-climate of the square.
As we saw during the first strict phase of quarantine here, in Italy, the ecological situation in the cities has got better and Nature around has bloomed and got back some of its positions conquered by human beings.

So, we saw clearly that Nature can exist perfectly without us, but we cannot.
We strongly believe that the answer to the city strategy is “to bring Nature back and to stabilize the balance between the man-made and naturally created”. And we see the same answer to the Global warming problem as well.

In our project, we focus on natural operands.
As we do not know the period of this phase of quarantine we assume the urban intervention as a temporary one which means no rigid hardware elements. Based on the research paper “Are the Water Bodies Really Cooling?” (Cor Jacobs, Lisette Klok, Michael Bruse, João Cortesão, Sanda Lenzholzer, Jeroen Kluck. Urban Climate Volume 32, 2 March 2020) we take the formula in order to regulate the summer daily temperature:

Using these operands we produce the scheme for separating the flows of people and organizing their traffic. At the same time, we consider the importance of the historic and touristic value of the space and the direction of the restitution of the public social life even partially. We spread the importance of the space uniformly on the square to prevent crowding in a few hot-points, and, simultaneously, we keep all the important historical views open. Furthermore, we use different levels of the new surface and visual marking to create the environment helping naturally and easily to keep social distance between users.


Limitations of the COVID -19 forced us to reflect on the new methods of social interactions. It is not possible anymore to use the public space in a way we did before the quarantine.  The unconscious use of the environment (even the man-made one), the excessive interactions caused numerous problems in our cities, in our homes.  The pollution (including visual and noise ones), overheated public spaces in the summer due to the absence of green and vehicle presence turned the urban realms into the healthless ambiance, which causes both health and psychological issues.

We believe that this quarantine is the possibility for us to revise our social habits and find new mindful and responsible approaches.
Finally, we hope that our proposal strategies are the right tools to assist us in the post COVID-19 “epoque”. 
These mechanisms are designed to sustain the value of social communication on a conscious and mindful basis.


Facts & Credits

Participants: “StudioMUR” Madina Akkubekova
                          Alina Musiyachenko

Country:           Italy

The project was shortlisted in top 50 out of 440 projects.

The impact of Pandemic Architecture competition on the international architectural community was astonishing, with the number of registrations to exceed 800, with the final proposals to exceed 400 and with participants from more than 60 different countries.
Results will be officially announced on the 25th of September.


Check out the open call and the jury here!