A New Health Urbanism

Authored by: Jenny Roe

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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Health is designed into the fabric of our cities, workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes, but mostly unintentionally. What might be achieved if we harnessed the power of urban design to tackle our most pressing health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? This chapter sets out a vision for a “new health urbanism” that uses planning and design to foster fitness, happiness, better quality of life, longevity, better aging, and improved connectivity among people. First, it sets out what constitutes health – and its determinants – and offers a framework for progressing a new health urbanism using a dynamic systems model. Then it addresses some of the constituent parts of this model focusing on the salutogenic (i.e. health-improving) attributes of city environments, including: Living Streets (i.e. city streets that promote active living); Urban Green Space and its role in fostering wellness; Urban Blue Space and the health benefits of access to water settings; Compact Cities that encourage urban mobility and social interaction; and Enabling Environments that offer opportunities for everyone to fully engage in urban life. It argues that quality urban design is a force for addressing health inequalities and for improving health outcomes in deprived urban communities.

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