Question: How do we design post-COVID-19 cities that enrich nature?
A competition by Pandemic Response CoLab.



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Rules: All entrants must agree to the Challenge rules and Terms of Use
Submission Deadline: January 31, 2021
Judging Criteria & Prizes: See below.



Cities are the fastest growing human settlements on the planet. Cities occupy only 1% of the earth’s land mass, but by 2050 will host more than 68% of the world’s population. Cities are growing upwards and outwards to accommodate this rapid urbanization. Due to this expansion, cities will continue to encroach on many of the earth’s most important natural resources such as rich biodiverse areas and land critical for agricultural use (Nature in the Urban Century). This expansion will have profound impacts on global ecosystems. In 2020, we all witnessed the natural world collide with human life with the spread of the COVID-19 virus that upended life as we knew it. Right now, cities are the site where efforts to curb the spread of the virus are the most critical.


Key Issues

What will our cities look like Post-COVID-19? The answer is, they’ll be exactly as we design them. Now is the time to start thinking about that design.

THE POST-COVID-19 CITY colab is a multidisciplinary call to action that challenges urbanists, innovators, entrepreneurs, artists, researchers, scientists, and various other types of urban practitioners and planners from around the world to reset our thinking on how sustainable, resilient, liveable and just cities can be built for urban futures that nurture human-nature relationships. Envisioned submissions are encouraged from diverse transdisciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to: natural sciences, technology and engineering, social sciences, communications and media, fine arts and film, urban planning and design, urban practitioners, and other sectors. Submission ideas and suggestions may include but are not limited to: nature-based solutions, biotechnology, biomimicry, collaboration and planning process innovations, methodologies, models, software and mobile application solutions, data collection and knowledge gathering innovations, illustrative art and design works, architectural ideas and modelling, mapping and GIS solutions, community and urban citizen engagement ideas for participation, etc. that can help us nurture our relationship with cities in nature.


Judging Criteria

  • Addresses the Challenge: The proposal incorporates all the core elements of the call.
  • Feasibility: The actions contemplated in the proposal are possible to achieve, that is, are not utterly fanciful (technical, economic, social, and political feasibility) and they take into account the context of the particular city they are proposed for.
  • Impact: The actions proposed improve resilience, livability, sustainability and or justice for the post-COVID-19 city. This may include but is not limited to building awareness and advocacy for change, city design and planning, novel technological solutions, software applications, knowledge gathering innovations, research and scientific approaches, artistic approaches, etc.
  • Transdisciplinary: The project involves participants, themes and focus that integrate multiple disciplines and perspectives that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. Proposals can be submitted as individuals, but groups of multidisciplinary teams are encouraged to apply.
  • Novelty/Innovative: Innovative thinking, originality and out-of-the-box thinking will be valued highly.
  • Proposal Quality: Proposals that are well-presented and focused will be favored over those that are not. Proposal quality includes how well written and thought out a proposal is and how well the idea and action are conveyed.



The Post-COVID-19 City Direct-Action Fellowships (up to 4 awards, at judges’ discretion) Value of $1000 per winner will be selected by the judging panel. The Nature of Cities in collaboration with IFWEN will provide the winners with seed funding to further the ideation, advocacy, promotion, and creation and or implementation of the proposed innovation. Winners will also receive recognition and visibility on the MIT Pandemic Response CoLab platform, the IFWEN project team and on The Nature of Cities publishing platform. Winners will be announced and receive recognition at The TNOC Festival, scheduled to take place in late February, 2021.

Post-COVID-19 City Innovative Thinker Fellowships (no maximum, judges’ discretion) re is no monetary value associated with this fellowship. Winners chosen by the judging panel will be select innovations which deserve recognition but did not qualify for seed funding. These fellowships will win publication of their idea on the Global Collective Intelligence Map in the final publication of the IFWEN project team book and be included on the accompanying online innovation map. Winners will also be announced and receive recognition at the TNOC Festival scheduled to take place in late February 2021.


Image sources:

© Photo by Fahrul Azmi on Unsplash

Ingrid Ruegemer

Fields of Expertise: Art, Craft, Design