MICHEL HÖSSLER: THE HEALTH CRISIS “QUESTIONING THE DENSE CITY”

Michel Hössler, one of the three founders and directors of TER, the 2018 Urban Planning Grand Prize winners, gave us his point of view on the consequences of the health crisis on practices in the urban planning sector.
Part of your work is based on urban planning and therefore dialogue with the actors: how do these activities take place during periods of confinement?
It depends. There are three main areas of work here: export activity, particularly with China, the United States or others, which is particularly affected by the Covid-19, even if this activity is now continuing in China; in Metropolitan France, in terms of project management of public space, site monitoring is complicated since many sites are closed ; in terms of urban project management, it depends on the customers, but overall, there is a continuation of the business.
What about your development operations?
We manage to maintain the activity of a certain number of projects already engaged for several years, by the installation of teleworking. This allows monitoring of operations. It is more complicated when operations dependent on new municipal teams, especially in cities where mayors were not elected in the first round of the recent local elections. In these cases, some projects are on standby
Will this health crisis impact the way you perceive and design the city and the landscape?
Of course! We are asking ourselves questions about the dense city, professional practices and the models on which we work, as much in the urban environment as in more natural contexts.
Will the effects of the health crisis be bearable from a financial point of view for the actors involved in creating the urban fabric, in your opinion?
We feel that this will lengthen the deadlines for political decisions which are linked to the renewal of municipal teams. This slowdown will impact fixed costs, which risk doubling or tripling. As for the intensity of the impact of the health crisis, it is very complicated to predict, it will depend a lot on the months to come.