Social Distancing Lawn Brings People Together

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by Lukasz Kotynski and Ada Kotynska

Exercising on a social distancing lawn in Elblag, Poland (1). Photo by Lukasz Kotynski.

In the midst of COVID-19-related uncertainty, Galeria EL Art Centre in Elbląg (Poland) came up with a simple yet clever idea, turning a spacious lawn in its publicly accessible courtyard into a green chessboard. The aim is to encourage outdoor activities while keeping safe distancing zones and combating drought at the same time.

Exercising on a social distancing lawn in Elblag, Poland (2). Photo by Lukasz Kotynski.

Originally, the plan was to leave the grass unmowed due to the constant threat of drought but the institution’s summer programme includes such events as “Breakfasts on the grass”, so the prospect of lush greenery might become problematic. Galeria EL’s director, Ada Kotyńska – an architect by education – has found a solution that should satisfy diverse expectations: she designed a green chessboard.

Exercising on a social distancing lawn in Elblag, Poland (3). Photo by Lukasz Kotynski.

On the one hand, this lawn pattern helps maintain the recommended social distance related to the coronavirus pandemic, and on the other hand it offers a chance to enjoy a comfortable time in short-cut grass squares.

Additionally, the unmowed areas improve water circulation and provide a safe space for various insects. “Longer grass keeps moisture, prevents soil erosion, lowers the temperature, produces oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide, also increasing biodiversity – all in one”, says the project’s initiator.

Relaxing on a social distancing lawn in Elblag, Poland (4). Photo by Lukasz Kotynski.

The concept is currently being expanded. People from other countries adapt it to their needs. For example, the University of Rhode Island adjusted the lawn based on the chessboard design to create social distancing. https://nebhe.org/info/journal/pdf/RWU-Landscape-Measure.pdf

For more information about Galeria EL – a contemporary art gallery impressively housed in a former Gothic church – go to: http://galeria-el.elblag.eu/en

About the authors:

Adriana Kotynska is the Director of Galeria EL Art Centre in Elblag (Poland), an architect and painter by education, an initator of art projects in public spaces, interested in sustainable urban planning and architectural education.

Lukasz Kotynski is a Polish-English translator and conference interpeter, urban activist, enthusiast of contemporary architecture, design and street photography.