UCL Urban Laboratory


‘Stay at Home’: Housing as a pivotal infrastructure of care?

6 April 2020

Dr Catalina Ortiz and Prof Camillo Boano co-author a blog expanding our understanding of the interdependent nature of housing and urbanism, prompted by the global COVID-19 lockdowns.

Yangon public housing – credit: Catalina Ortiz

It is always difficult to write something meaningful when the categories we often adopt are not sufficient to grasp the severity and the globality of the present condition. In pandemic times, the linchpin strategy to prevent the spread of disease relies on a ‘Staying at home’ mantra of securitization and immunization. But staying home proved to be a privilege not feasible for many and social distancing impossible for the majority of urban inhabitants.

This universal measure allows inequalities, vulnerabilities and structural perversions to emerge more violently. Now, more than ever, the centrality of housing and the practices of living are fundamental for population’s care and health. While many are interrogating on the future, if any, on the post-, and the surely extreme consequences at economic and political levels, the zeitgeist calls for fostering radical care.

In the short piece on the DPU blog, we want to expand our understanding of the interdependent nature of housing and urbanism as well as possible directions for guiding the synergies of efforts of response and recovery. The departing point for global solidarity, we argue, needs to frame housing as the pivotal ‘infrastructure of care’ for surviving in the present and for reimaging the future of cities.

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