Planning for a healthier future?

A new book by a Fuse expert at Newcastle University looks at how where we live influences our health – for better and for worse.

From 'toxic high streets' to 'car-orientated design', Healthy Cities? Design for Well-being by Professor Tim Townshend, explores the ways in which the development of the built environment has contributed to health and wellbeing problems and how the physical design of the places we live in may support, or constrain, healthy lifestyle choices.

"The book is very timely as following the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic we are more aware than ever of the impact of our environment on our health and our wellbeing," explains Tim, a Fuse Associate and Professor of Urban Design for Health at Newcastle University.

"For example, when we were only allowed out for an hour a day, it became clear how important having access to outdoor and green space was both physical and mentally. Lockdown also meant our homes became places where we not only lived, but also where we worked and those with young families also had to teach and entertain children. This brought any shortcomings in housing – such as small rooms and lack of space into focus very quickly."

"Creating healthier places to live is within our grasp"

Professor Tim Townshend, Fuse Associate at Newcastle University

Among the issues Professor Townshend examines in the book are the consequences of 'car orientated design', the 'toxic high street', and poor quality, cramped housing; and the importance of nature in cities, and of initiatives such as community gardening, healthy food programmes and Park Run. It questions whether Heritage is always conducive to wellbeing challenging the assumption that having older buildings around is always positive and offers lessons from holistic and innovative projects which have successfully improved community and individual health and wellbeing.

“Creating healthier places to live is within our grasp,” says Professor Townshend. “It is time for all of us with an interest in the built environment – whatever our background or discipline – to meet the challenge.”

Healthy Cities? Design for Well-being was launched at the Fuse Research Programme Meeting Planning for a healthier future: Priorities and Practicalities. A recording of the event will be made available shortly.

Read Professor Townshend's blog post which accompanied the Fuse event.

Healthy Cities? Design for Well-being is published by Lund Humphries.

Last modified: Thu, 26 May 2022 15:48:51 BST