The coronavirus pandemic has affected virtually all aspects of life, so why not urban planning?
Sydney urban planner Mike Day was musing last week about the kinds of communities that may have coped better than others during the coronavirus restrictions.
He suggests medium-density housing, self-sufficient communities with local jobs that didn't require long commutes, and mixed-use neighborhoods with essential amenities within walking distance would have faced up well to the challenges of staying at home, and often working there too.
"In high-density neighbourhoods, people feel the need to leave their homes more often for fresh air, sunshine and space. Those in low-density neighbourhoods find it easier to stay at home, but they are forced to leave regularly in their cars for essential services and goods," Day said.
"Those in more compact, connected communities have the best of both worlds - like low-density communities, they have adequate outdoor and work space to remain at home more comfortably, but also have the added benefits of high-density communities, where they have essential amenities in close proximity."
Communities with continuous, uninterrupted walkways that allowed easy exercise when gyms and other services were closed and neighbourhoods that were walkable would have also fared well, helping residents to be more resilient both mentally and physically, he said.
"What the shutdowns have shown us is that residents in communities that are walkable - where daily needs are within walking distance, mirroring the timeless town planning principlesevident in the cherished inner neighbourhoods of our capital cities that were common prior to cars becoming the predominant mode of travel - have coped better than those communities that rely heavily on cars to get anywhere."
Day said planning will learn from the pandemic. He said more people will want to continue working from home and that will affect how homes and neighbourhoods are built.
"Car-dependent McMansions" remote from services won't cut it in the future, he said.
"More modest, compact homes and townhouses with independent workspaces, such as a separate dwelling or workspace above the garage with rear street access, are likely to have been adequately equipped for home-based working," he said.
"What we've proved is we can work from home. What we need now are the dedicated work spaces, so you're not on top of each other."
These "live-work" homes may sound utopian and out of reach.
Day argued that if at least one member of the family is working from home, savings can be made by getting rid of the second car.
"The RACV and RACQ have established that the 2019 average annual cost of car ownership exceeds $10,000, which equates to servicing $200,000 of a home mortgage," he said.
E-bikes will be another development which will help to phase out second cars. A recent report by Deloitte found that by 2023, the total number of e-bikes in circulation around the world - owned by both consumers and organisations - should reach about 300 million.
Day, co-founder of urban planning and design practice RobertsDay and a fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia, is a fan of the "20-minute neighbourhood", part of the Victorian government's planning strategy, which he says also alleviates the need for a second car.
"It's all about 'living locally' - giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute walk from home, with access to safe cycling and local transport options," the plan says.
Day maintains that can still work in car-dependent Canberra.
He says the Kingston Foreshore is "exceptional", with mixed-use residences and easy access to the lake and dedicated walking and cycling paths.
Day also acknowledged the ACT government had been focused on urban infill, and was supportive of that. The future meant more conscious planning, he said.
"There's a lot of subdivisions that have occurred in Canberra, like they have in other capital cities, that are very much car-based. You've got to drive from the shopping centre to the jobs, to the residential areas and everything is physically separated. Whereas those cherished inner neighbourhoods are more connected ... and walkable," he said.
"It's just to be mindful of the 20-minute neighbourhood principles. It's about choice and communities that are compact, mixed-use, so that the daily needs are within walking distance.
"You can still drive for your weekly needs but you can walk or cycle for your daily needs."