So what does designing a healthy city look like when health and space are both pay-to-play? In many ways, it isn’t a question of physical design at all; it’s about a deeper understanding of what health is.
In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Even though it’s over 70 years old, it’s a radical sentiment.
GRI Faculty Affiliate, Sara Jensen Carr, explains “What goes unsaid in that definition of health is a sense of autonomy, and that has a lot to do with your well-being — how much control you have over your daily life,” She cited the research of the architect Roselyn Lindheim and sociologist Leonard Syme, who, “wrote about strong social connections and mental well-being, and building resistance to disease,” Carr says. “Designing healthier cities isn’t about planting more trees because at the root of what exacerbates a lot of these illnesses is stress, and that could be stress from racism, stress from economic inequality, stress in your daily life.”