Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, The British University in Egypt (BUE), Egypt
Mona Helmy is an architect, urbanist, and educator. Currently, she is an associate professor of architecture and urban design at the British University in Egypt (BUE). She received a Doctoral degree in Architecture and City Planning from Stuttgart University, Germany. She holds a master’s degree in Urban Design and a Bachelor of Architecture from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. She holds a higher diploma of “Teaching for Understanding” from Harvard University.
Between 2010 and 2018, Dr. Helmy was the founding chair of the architecture department at Dar Al-Hekma University, Jeddah, KSA. She also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Stuttgart. Dr. Helmy publishes widely in international and national conferences. She is a member of several scientific committees in international conferences, symposia, and refereed journals. She is a research fellow at the Städtebau-Institut “SI” of the University of Stuttgart. The current research studies of Dr. Helmy focus on “Creative Public Spaces”, “City Imaging and Branding” as well as “City Festivalization and Eventification”. As a consultant and advisor in urban design, city branding, and contemporary Arab Gulf urbanism, she has participated in a number of significant planning, urban, and architecture projects in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East. She also contributed to several design studies.
The Middle East area perceives this pandemic as physical distancing but not social distancing.
Insight from "Reframing the Role of Public Space during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic"
Governments in the Middle East first coped with COVID-19 via sanitization of public spaces, followed by shutdown of public spaces like waterfront, and curfews at night or even 24 hours. Shopping mall is an important typology of indoor public spaces in the Gulf region and beyond, it is a place for gathering and activities but not only shopping, and malls were also closed during the pandemic. Some could not bear this and started going out for non-emergency issues like shopping, recreations, socializing. Mona questioned the possibility of and social adaptability of distance gathering and raised several provocative questions towards the end of her presentation: Will public spaces remain with the same characteristics after the COVID-19 Pandemic? Will it be (re)designed to consider physical distancing? Will it have other innovative approaches for safe gathering? Can it be replaced with privatized public spaces? What will be the socio-spatial implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic?