Pandemic Urbanism

May 14, 2020

City Tours – From London Boom to Bedroom Zoom

By Ariana Pacrami (
London Blue Badge Guide

The author will give this presentation at the Pandemic Urbanism Symposium in a session titled “Virtual Culture,” from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM on May 29, 2020.

I wish to contribute to the ‘Pandemic Urbanism’ symposium in my professional capacity as a London Blue Badge Guide. My work entails undertaking field trips with student groups who are interested in the city, its architecture, its built environment, and the society that uses it.

While my focus is on the physical manifestations of the city, I am equally interested in the kind of ideas that it produces.

I am using the wording ‘London Boom’ because prior to the lockdown, the city had been experiencing record visitor figures. Due to the impact of Covid-19, the visitors stopped visiting and my guiding changed from working ‘on the street’ conducting tours to large audiences to working at home alone in my bedroom on Zoom.

What I wish to explore is that, despite the current situation, what London reveals is its durability, flexibility and resilience. How I will do this is by outlining my work before Covid-19, with what is happening now, and how the rest of the Blue Badge confederation are working towards new ways of representing the city. What makes this particularly challenging is that our guiding is based on a sociability which involves a 2-way (actual rather than virtual) communication between the guide and the visitor. On this basis, I will discuss how I am deploying new ways of representing London that, despite social distancing, it continues to remain about ‘connectivity’ and about linking up online, virtually and completely.