Initially, the 2020 summer term research seminar was meant to be about investigating more deeply why contact is such an important link of mutual understanding and cooperation when it comes to urban design and mental health. Issue #2 was therefore to focus on enhancing physical contact between humans, humans and nature, humans and nature and city, by alternative design strategies but also by enabling contact between disciplines, their expertise and methodologies. But then Covid-19 turned the whole world’s focus on seeking ways of avoiding contact, asking to please NOT take the risk of making contact. Social distancing, staying at home led to a change of plans: we now find ourselves reporting from within the perfidious real-life-lab of a worldwide lockdown. Covid-19 has established new rules that impact on our spatial arrangements and mental wellbeing, momentarily and probably even more in the future when it comes to dealing with contact and the city. Three fields of interest were identified when the seminar group thought about how the highly praised physical contact is now in jeopardy and challenged over extent. For each field, students became authors of reports, observations, interviews, critiques and reflections contributing to proving their relevance: Almost instantly we notice a shift of focus in spatial concepts. Instinctively we become inventive and creative and we start to re-interpret spatial elements. Suddenly we are turning to groups within our society that have been an important part of it all along, but now – being labeled high-risk groups – they get special attention as the necessity for new (spatial) solutions is urgent.
The simultaneously edited issue #3 addresses further basics concerning contact and urban design. Issue #4 will report about first contact between the students of the programs in urban design TUM and public mental health from LMU. They have jointly worked on proposals for the improvement of wellbeing in an urban district in Munich.