How do Landscape Architects Influence the Health of our Cities and People?

In every neighboughood, landscape architects are often found working on projects which are community driven and contribute directly to local health and wellbeing.

The heavy truth


In contemporary western societies chronic disease has now overtaken infectious disease as a major cause of death[1]. Over 60% of Australian adults are considered overweight or obese with this figure predicted to reach close to 80% by 2025[2]. Increased activity is one way of preventing obesity and related diseases but the priorities on how we plan and design our cities needs to shift.

Encouraging movement

Research has shown the quality of a local environment can have a significant impact on activity levels. For people living in a residential environment incorporating “high levels of greenery, the likelihood of being more physically active is more than three times as high, and the likelihood of being overweight and obese is about 40% less”[3]. Landscape architects design streetscape and open space improvements that encourage people to be more active. Well-designed streets and open spaces reduce the barriers of people walking or riding, instead of using a car, by providing well connected path and cycle networks. And spaces that are well designed and aesthetically pleasing can have an immense impact on one’s sense of wellbeing.

  

Economic health


Town, city and district scale projects make a measurable impact on a region, and contribute to economic growth and the health of the local economy. Landscape architects use their spatial design expertise to develop creative solutions to practical and aesthetic challenges. This scale of work may include strategic advice on biodiversity, conservation, heritage, flooding, art and townscape as well as project-specific interventions. These projects may be public or private for housing, industry, commerce, recreation, transport and leisure.

Some inspiration


Walkable streets

Cycling projects

Playgrounds

Youth and skating

Sporting facilities

[1] Center for Active Design, ‘Design + Health’ website:http://centerforactivedesign.org/data/

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, website:http://www.aihw.gov.au/risk-factors-overweight-obesity/and Obesity Australia ‘No Time to Weight’ available athttp://www.obesityaustralia.org/resources-1/no-time-to-weight p.26[10 August 2015]

[3] Ellaway et al, ‘Graffiti, Greenery, and Obesity in Adults: Secondary Analysis of European Cross Sectional Survey’, British Medical Journal, available fromhttp://www.bmj.com/content/331/7517/611[5 July 2005]

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