24 May 2020

The coronavirus lockdown and enforced social distancing has resulted in many of us spending much more time than ever outdoors. In addition to the increased levels of outdoor activity that many people have been indulging in, queueing outside shops and other public and commercial buildings has become the new norm.

It is a shift that has prompted a debate about how our buildings and surrounding spaces will need to change to ensure we can accommodate social distancing, at least in the short-term.

What has become apparent – perhaps because the UK weather has been largely good throughout the lockdown – is that people are getting used to being outdoors. Things might be different in a cold and rainy November, however! But should architects, planners and building owners work together to change their external spaces to provide a better experience for customers?

Jude Barber, director at Glasgow-based Collective Architecture, summed it up well in a recent article, saying: ‘Given the spatial and behavioural challenges surrounding the pandemic, it seems only right that architects, landscape architects and planners should be central to the discussion and share their ideas and expertise.’

The idea of repurposing amenity spaces and reconfiguring streets for recreation and physically-distanced movement is gaining momentum, but a recent article by CNN went even further. It declared that our cities will never look the same again!

Whatever the extent of the redesign of outdoor spaces – whether that is a terraced area outside a bar or restaurant, a pedestrianised shopping street, a football stadium or an urban park – it is vitally important that the right infrastructure is in place to provide flexibility of use to cater for many different situations. Being prepared for setting up outdoor electrical signage, heaters, food and drink stalls, temporary posts for security screening, etc. will enable property owners to adapt in a professional way that gives the right impression to customers.

One way of doing this is through the installation of on-demand power supplies which are there when you need them but hidden when you don’t. This is the concept behind the retractable and in-ground units available from Pop Up Power Supplies®.

The Pop Up Power Supplies® solutions provide access to power, water and other services and have been used on applications as diverse as shopping centre plazas, university grounds, the gardens of stately homes, sports stadia and pedestrianised streets. Easy to specify and install, they also eliminate the need for temporary generators which often have trailing cables that present health and safety risks. This makes a retractable ‘pop-up’ or in-ground unit is the best solution all round.