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In her blog post ‘Urban Design: Health, Well-being and Flourishing’ my colleague Yilan Zhang discusses the possibilities on how our cities might promote a healthier life style and improve the quality of life. According to her blog post, 70% of planet’s population will be living in urban environment by 2050. therefore, it is important to design an environment that could accommodate a large number of people without having to sacrifice the quality of life style.
Yilan focuses on inactivity and sedentary life style, which is, indeed, a great problem of contemporary life style. When cars appeared on the world’s stage, our cities started to be designed with the central focus on them and this led to high pollution levels in cities,¬†deceases associated with it, premature death and so on.¬† Now urban designers around the world are seeking the solution to the problem we have created ourselves in the previous years.
The problem of well-being in cities should be a complex of actions that prevent us from sedentary lifestyle and be addressed on different levels including:
  • improvement of air and water quality
  • noise pollution reduction
  • creating more walkable neighbourhoods and reducing urban sprawl by providing a good level of mix uses
  • fast food shouldn’t be accessible instantly. Major of London is planning to issue ban to open fast food shops within 400m from school to encourage school children make more healthier food choices
‘Walkable City’, book by Jeff Speck

According to Design for Walkability, walkable neighbourhoods would help to reduce car reliance, improve air and water quality, increase activity level and improve health. The key points they highlight:

  • Create fine-grained pedestrian circulation that would improve permeability and access to amenities. however, sometimes developers and property owners might be resilient to such design approach due to their concerns on security of the site
  • ¬†Organise uses to support public activity
  • Address the human scale with building and landscape details providing a rich public realm that would support physical activity
  • Open green spaces that would improve walking experience and make it more desirable. At the same time, green spaces have an important role in reducing pollution level

As a conclusion I would add, that taking steps towards improving well-being in cities isn’t an quick process and requires time and investments. However, by starting reducing the cars in cities we might able combat several negative factors in cities and achieve a higher quality of live in urban areas faster

References:

Design for Walkability
http://www.designforwalkability.com/walkability-principles/
Jan Gehl, Life Between Buildings
Diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and perceptions of the environment in young adults
Authors A. A. Lake, T. Townshend, S. Alvanides, E. Stamp, A. J. Adamson

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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