Notes for a Livable City: Urban Design Directly Impacts Health

Urban designed cityUrban design has always played an integral role in the everyday functions of a city and its inhabitants, as architectural landscape and design firms like MPFP know. This is why they always strive to implement good design in every project. However, according to University of Waterloo professor Colin Ellard, great architecture offers more benefits than just smooth operations. A thoughtfully designed architectural piece, he says, can also promote good health.

Taking Human Happiness and Mental Health into Account

A group of cognitive neuroscience researchers from the University of Waterloo and Happy City conducted a study about urban design in relation with happiness and mental health. Doctoral student Robin Mazumder said their team wants research data that can inform them how to build better cities.

“People are becoming increasingly urbanized and moving to cities, and we have to start building cities and design them in ways that promote wellness and happiness”, Mazumder noted.

The researchers are aware of the environmental impacts of physical health, but they want scientific data that proves how green and zoning spaces would make people happier. The data will allow policy-makers to consider human happiness and mental health in urban designing. They plan to release a public report and publish the results in a scientific journal next year.

Connecting Urban Design and Health

Ellard says that architecture and urban design can influence individuals to be happy, sad, and even sick. To him, the geometry and the appearance of the surroundings influence how an individual feels, acts, thinks, pays attention, and makes decisions.

The way building aesthetics affect people, Ellard reminds, isn’t just cool trivia though. Urban design and health directly correlate. In fact, a University of Chicago research study from last year found that adding 10 trees on a city block improves the health perception in ways comparable to being seven years younger.

Indeed, there are physiological links between urban design and health, and studies continue to show the world how.