New Market Design That Promotes Social Distancing In A Coronavirus Future
At this moment in time, there is a strong worldwide consensus that shutdowns are our only answer to stop the corona virus from infecting us too fast to cope with. The actual form that this shutdown should have and especially its severity, has brought many dilemmas to governmental bodies that impose them. One such dilemma is how to guarantee the distribution of fresh food and groceries with a minimum of risk.
In the attempt to limit physical contact between people, the purchase of food is probably the weakest link. In the various shutdowns over the world, supermarkets have not been closed since they are part of our vital infrastructure of food distribution. Online shopping, by far the safest way to get groceries, is booming but cannot replace physical supermarkets in terms of capacity and reach. Nor can the various drive-through food solutions that pop up in many places.
Even with protective measures it seems very difficult if not impossible to rule out the risk of contamination in traditional fresh produce markets. The social distancing rules are very hard to control and many people are touching the same products. But this is also the case at the supermarkets that do stay open. Furthermore, closing down the markets will put even more pressure on the supermarkets and will further disadvantage people with lower incomes. Many households depend on the open-air market for their basic food needs. Closing the markets forces them to switch to the more expensive supermarkets, putting further financial pressure on these more vulnerable groups.
The goal of these hyperlocal micro markets is to conduct dispersion instead of concentration. This concept by Shift Architecture Urbanism focuses on reducing the amount of traveling that needs to be made through the city while limiting the engaged physical contact. The markets are located in open-air thus are healthier and can help reduce the pressure on supermarkets. The primary goal is to split up the current food markets and then disperse them throughout the neighborhoods. The cities would then be focusing on dispersion both in space and time.
Shift says, ‘This is done by breaking down the large markets into so-called micro markets that are spread over the city and opening them up for a longer time. Instead of going to the market, the market is coming to your neighbourhood.’ The design features 16-square grids and each stall features two counters – one for order while the other for collection. There is only one entrance but two exits and only six persons can be in it at any given time.
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