15:00 - 16:40
Session: S51
[Community and Healing] + Design
Transformation of Human-Public Spaces Relations in Pandemic Context: A User Experience Perspective
Urban Public Space Design; Pandemic; User Experience; Participatory Design
Yunyu OUYANG, Yuqing Evie ZHU

This paper focuses on the transformation of people’s perceptions in urban public spaces and the blurring boundaries between public spaces and private spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. To investigate the gap among current public design strategy and people’s unmet new demands, we use a phenomenology method to delve into users’ experience. By conducting a semi-structured survey with a UX lens, the investigation gains an insight into 14 Wuhan dwellers’ hidden psychological demands via mental model diagrams. The analyses show people’s initiatives in bringing their “private bubbles” into public spaces, and their willingness to seek more flexible public space design to facilitate their unmet demands. Their awareness of involvement in urban public space design has been increased in the pandemic. According to the survey, the meaning of urban public spaces also changes due to people’s increased health concerns. Although in the past, urban public spaces were centred on encouraging social engagement, the situation has changed – the publicness of urban public spaces is now declining, while the privateness is increasing accordingly in the pandemic context. Based on Don Ihde’s fourfold human-technology relations theory, we speculate the pandemic-impacted relations of human and public space tend to shift from “background relations” to“ embodied relations.”