Embedding public health experts into architecture training improved skills, knowledge and awareness amongst architects. A promising way to work towards healthier buildings and places.

For the attention of:  Architectural professional bodies, Architects Registration Board, national public health professional bodies, Faculty of Public Health

The problem: One in six Europeans live in buildings which are contributing to poor health.

Architects can play a key role as part of the wider public health workforce, in ensuring buildings and places are health promoting, however there is no requirement to teach health by architectural accreditation bodies across Europe

What we did: The innovative Public Health Practitioner in Residence is one of the first programmes in the world to conduct research into the expansion of the public health workforce into the design professions. We performed a long-term evaluation, to assess the individual and organisational impacts of this programme, to see if it is a model that would be beneficial to roll-out more widely.

What our study adds: This initiative:

  • Helps to embed public health professionals into architecture training, improving public health skills, knowledge and awareness amongst a cohort of architecture alumni.
  • Incorporates health concepts into the architecture curriculum maintains impact even when health staff availability is limited.

In practice, creating healthy buildings and places is facilitated by later career stages, larger firms, working on projects in education, residential or healthcare sectors, and on larger sites. Barriers are resources and the understanding of others in the architectural processs

Implications for city policy and practice: The approach to architectural education could be replicated in other educational institutions in the UK, the rest of Europe and worldwide. There are also lessons for other built environment courses.

In academia – looking for opportunistic evaluations of health effects of future developments would add value to architectural education.

In practice – engaging with general public, developers, financiers and land-owners and making health more explicit in regulations would address many of the barriers we found.

Links to other resources and support:

World Health Collaborating Centre for Healthy Urban Environments

Full research article: Evaluating a workforce development programme: bringing public health into architecture education in England

Authors: Rachael Marsh (@rachaelmarsh), Paul Pilkington (@paulpilkington), Elena Marco (@emarco14), Louis Rice (@DrLouisRice)

Editor: Marcus Grant