13 March — 16 May 2020
At the start of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on cities in several regions of the world. Thus, it leads us to ask fundamental questions about the social, cultural, economic, environmental, and physical (habitat, street, park, etc.) aspects of urban environments. COVID-19 has radically changed, in a very short period, the behavior and concerns of citizens in the city. Urban populations have changed their daily way of life and have adapted to this new reality with appropriate measures to curb this pandemic.
COVID-19 revealed the importance of experiencing the city on a day-to-day basis during the lock-down period. It led us to question the role and functions of public and private spaces, just as it exposed major problems of use and accessibility to certain urban attributes (park, street, etc.). It also led to the emergence of new actions and solutions adapted to this context of crisis.
This research, entitled Montreal/landscape under lockdown produced by the UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape at University of Montreal (CUPUM), reports on the situation with respect to public spaces during the lockdown period. Based on an informational watch of the media, certain NPOs and press releases from the City of Montreal, it was possible to find answers to a series of questions related to the mission of the UNESCO Chair and its affiliated UNESCO programs.
This research also provided an opportunity to take a sensitive look at the experience of the public space by analyzing the various frames taken by press and professional photographers during this period of lockdown in Montreal. The interpretation of this collection of photographs has made it possible to outline the identity of the urban landscape, revealing the key attributes of the experience of the city in "lockdown" mode.
This reflection follows the call for good initiatives from the cities of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities network () in March 2020. The aim of this call from UNESCO’s Human and Social Sciences was to:
The research conducted by the UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape at the University of Montréal offers some answers to these expectations, particularly on issues related to Montreal’s public space. The information markup and analysis involved in this research, which covers only the lockdown period from March 13, 2020 to May 16, 2020, should shed new light on Montreal’s urban landscape in the context of the global pandemic and provide a basis for reflection on the future of public spaces. Thus, this reflection represented an opportunity to:
The results of these two objectives are presented successively in the following pages. Included in that presentation is the UNESCO interactive map that lists the experiences of cities through UNESCO networks (i.e., UNESCO Cities Platform) to encourage and promote international collaboration and solidarity.
UNESCO Cities Platform, gathering eight networks and programs: