This time of self-isolation at home offers a time for reflection and contemplation on how the urban environment might change post Covid-19. 

Already we are seeing people ‘shop’ closer to home at the ‘corner shop’ or revisiting the ‘High Street’ in their suburb, particularly if within walking distance. Coincidentally, in the religious world, it is also a time of introspection coinciding with Lent, Passover/Pentecost and includes Ramadan this year, a time for introspection of our personal character aspirations.  For example, in the Jewish world, it is a time for review of resolution through using a matrix of seven character traits through pairing of aspirations daily for seven weeks. While not denigrating the religious fervour of the above periods, a simple ‘check in’ matrix can be devised for the urban design field  including the ‘aspirations’ of  transport, waste, resources, energy, water, food and habitat.

‘Pointy end’ of a Pocket Neighbourood, Mens’ shed, solar carports and 80Kw Hydrolyser

An urban design check in matrix

A matrix consisting of correlations of the urban design aspirations can be mapped in a simple spreadsheet, along the vertical axis by pairing of 7 x 6  aspirations over 42 pairings (comparing the same aspiration with itself is considered superfluous, there are  42, not 49 pairings). Along the horizontal axis a scaled measure of the strength of the each correlation, reviewed from ‘weakest, to ‘middling, to ‘strongest’. From this checklist, for any scale project, there will be natural clusters of strong correlations forming, which may give pause and insights into rearranging  the urban design-scape.

An example using the ‘pocket neighbourhood’ scale model.

Observations from the ‘pocket neighbourhood’ scale example:-

Note 1-The pairing ‘Habitat’ and ‘Energy’. Sustainability Engineer , Dr Neil Thompson’s (now MD, ITM Power (Aust.) Pty), has authored the idea for  a more intelligent use of sustainable ‘Habitat’ and ‘Energy’  through shifting some sustainable capital expenditure (CAPEX) items to a third party provided/maintained operational expenses (OPEX) model.  For example a third party funds the installation of the PV panels /hydrolyser, maintains and bills a ‘pocket neighbourhood’ provided there are at least 20 residential units.

Note 2 -The pairing of ‘Energy’ and ‘Transport’. When paired the above Habitat/Energy correlation the synergy can be further extended to include a bookable electric car, e.g. Sola-drive, provided there is 15,000 alms/annum uses.

Note 3-The pairing ‘Habitat’ with ‘Resources’ (material labour. The use of  client ‘People’ contributing joint ‘barn raising’ efforts to  build ‘creative common’  designs, using CNC sustainable panel ‘Resources’ is a strong correlation, which will yield dividends in savings and house ‘pride-ness’. See ‘Sourceable’17th April article, ‘Small pocket neighbourhoods can deliver large benefits.


Using such a simple checklist can lead to discoveries along the way, creating synergies (the whole being greater than the parts) and serendipity (an occurrence by chance), which could occur from interrogating the above matrix of pairing correlations. Like the spiritual matrix  of becoming resolute with our personal character traits, such as ‘Strength’/‘Mercy’ at this very time,  the 7 urban design aspirations pairings could inform  new ways for urban design to become more resolute when combining people, resources and living environments in a more community oriented and sustainable way, post the Covid-19 era.