Health Design for Public Health

Contributed by Hank Hancock
July 27, 2016

This story in the New York Times looks at ways design decisions can influence health and well-being in our cities, by encouraging more physical activity and engagement with the environment. With the shift in focus to public health initiatives, healthcare design might benefit from looking beyond the hospital at design initiatives such as this.

Planners in New York have now begun employing a method known as “active design” to solve the problem. The approach is part of a global movement to get urbanites onto their streets and enjoying their surroundings on foot, bike or public transport.

Groups like the Center for Active Design not only promote such efforts, but they are also gathering evidence to demonstrate real outcomes. For example, evidence-based design has meant collected data concerning New York City’s ambitious plaza program…

which has created a series of pedestrianized plazas across the city by converting unused pockets of land or changing traffic patterns. The decision was aided by studies showing that people needed to live within 10 minutes of a park, or open space, in order to use it.

“This has increased the number of people gathering and walking more,” Frank said.