New research points to health-supportive environments suffering from a lack of recognition of real world lived experience needs.

Professional update for: Urban designers. Urban planners. Project managers. Community facility managers. Public health planners.

We need to design urban environments to be supportive of a broad range of needs intrinsic to good population health. However the effectiveness of much health-supportive design intention has been found to be deficient. Failures include poor implementation, poor on-going management, and a lack of empathic engagement with residents and other actual users in respect to meeting their real needs.

What we already know: We are now well aware of the need to design urban environments to address, and hopefully ameliorate, the current exponential growth in chronic (‘lifestyle’) diseases. There has been considerable research advising on such things as the need to increase physical activity, promote social interaction, encourage interaction with natural (green) environments, and promote the consumption of nutritious foods.

What this study adds: This study found a lack of attention to two critical factors;

  • ensuring the built environment professionals themselves actually implemented and maintained the health-supportive features initially proposed, and
  • providing on-going supportive programs to assist uptake of these features by residents.

Implications for city policy and practice: There needs to be a more diligent and empathic engagement by built environment, health and public program professionals with the day-to- day needs of residents and other users of built environments if we are to ensure health-supportive ’good intentions’ are actually established on the ground and subsequently maintained.

Full article: Learning from lived experience for the improvement of health-supportive built environment practice.

For related research see also: City Futures Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia  @UNSWCityFutures

Authors: Greg Paine, Susan Thompson, Bill Randolph, Bruce Judd
City Know-how editor: Marcus Grant