Based on the authors’ personal experiences, this commentary discusses contrasting urban contexts and lockdown measures in twinned cities Wuhan, China and Manchester, UK, to examine spatial reach under COVID-19 restrictions in both places. Focusing on latency, the capacity of space to fit new occupation patterns and uses, the role of architecture and urban design is considered, to identify lessons applicable to physical and digital environment design, in scales and media that can absorb shock, supporting flexible, creative resilient approaches and patterns of future liveability. With massive externally induced change, what stays, what shifts, what disappears? This paper considers spatial adaptability, spatial resilience in two comparative, yet different contexts to identify design-based questions and propose thematic responses addressing resilient liveable future urbanism. This reflects on the similarities and differences between lockdown in China and the UK, the concept of mental as well as physical lockdown and how this has played out in these two countries.