10 Architecture as Public Health

In Chicago, Illinois, bike paths are being expanded and enhanced to ensure separation from auto traffic. Photo Credit: WikiCommons

A bike parking lot in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Interesting fact: in the Netherlands, adults 75 and older make a quarter of all trips by bike. Photo Credit: WikiCommons

Researchers are studying local food infrastructures to see how access to fresh foods impacts health outcomes. Shown here is the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Credit: WikiCommons

Architecture as Public Health

While the term “architecture” often invokes ideas of visual design, buildings and cities are, of course, more than just static objects at which we look. We move in and out of them, interact with them – we live and breathe in them.

Now, with rising rates of obesity and chronic disease linked to sedentary lifestyles, architects are thinking even more about the ways in which people physically interact with (and are impacted by) the built environment.

Architects and urban planners are looking at new ways to enhance health and ensure that our environment enhances, rather than detracts, from physical wellbeing. They are working with communities to design individual buildings and entire neighborhoods that promote physical, mental, and social health.

Examples of “active design” are bike paths and street networks that connect with parks and greenways to encourage people to move about.

Researchers are also looking closely at food infrastructures and, specifically, how access to fresh food affects health and can be enhanced to improve health.

The results could bring us all to a healthier place.