Towards an antifragile urban form: a research agenda for advancing resilience in the built environment

Francesca S. Sartorio*, Patricia Aelbrecht, Hesam Kamalipour, Andrea Frank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


This paper aims to initiate reflections on what an antifragile (Taleb, Anti-fragile. Things that gain from disorder. Penguin Books, London 2012) built environment might look like by furthering the debate on dynamic non-equilibrium resilience, specifically in terms of scale, urban morphology and social life in urban areas. It will do so by presenting a critical review of relevant literature on resilience in the built environment and linking it to what we know so far about the physical (i.e. geographical, morphological and so on) and socio-cultural conditions that have likely limited the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining quality in urban space in early 2020. As the current pandemic is sharpening our understanding of both the link between local and global action and the power encompassed in the exercise of professional and technical knowledge and practice, the paper concludes with (i) speculations on how the current crisis and its management (i.e. lockdown and social distancing measures in public space’ use) might lead to radical changes to the way we think of, and design the conditions for, urban public life and sociability; and with (ii) an agenda for further research on what role urban forms and uses play in speeding or slowing viral spread in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-158
Number of pages24
JournalUrban Design International
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited part of Springer Nature.


  • Antifragility
  • COVID-19
  • Research agenda
  • Resilience
  • Urban form

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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