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Healthy Cities?

Healthy Cities?

Published on: 16 May 2022

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

Health and wellbeing

A new book by a Newcastle University expert 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, 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.”

City skyline at night

Holistic and innovative

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 is being launched at Planning for a healthier future: Priorities and Practicalities, an event organised by Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health. The event will take place from 9.30am on Wednesday 18 May at Teesside University. 

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


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