This lecture talks about the connection between urban aspects and the health and well-being of the inhabitants in such areas. The lecture starts with the discussion of the historical development of knowledge on the connection between health and environment. The lecture considers the contemporary issues of health such as the population caused by cars and lifestyle diseases caused by the urban environment. To exploit the new understanding on the connection between the urban environment and health, the lecture explores how the design should be made to support more active lifestyles. The lecture explores how the green approaches support the health and well-being of the inhabitants. Heath is defined as being in a good state of physical, mental, and social health while well-being is considered a modern term that describes human health. Flourishing is related to having achieved happiness, satisfaction, and the three aspects of health (mental, physical, and social health).
One of the major themes that emerge in this lecture is that green spaces can help provide health/well-being to humanity. In essence, a connection has already been established between green spaces and improved well-being (Beck, 2007, p.18). Specifically, the green spaces have abundant opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, and air quality and this brings to the end in positive health outcomes. It is also interesting to find that this connection is based on theory. Ulrich developed theory on psycho-physiological stress reduction through experiments (Berto, 2014, p.399). In these experiments, stressed individuals were exposed to stimuli in urban or natural environments. The author established some restorative effects for stress when individuals were in natural environments (Berto, 2014, p.394). The work helps in the development of more understanding on this area. With this knowledge, one can wonder why humans fail to create more green spaces to improve their well-being. If there is clear evidence that green spaces lead to better health, it is important to question why the world isn’t putting enough effort to achieve green-living. Specifically, the development of urban spaces isn’t following this knowledge. In developing nations, the living spaces that are being created are congested and vegetation/natural environment is quickly being squeezed out of living habitats (Alexander, 2009). It seems that urban planners are not giving this approach the attention and commitment it deserves. In the case study of modern cars, it is clear that they reduce physical activity and increase pollution both which are not healthy.
Figure 1: Example of a green working space (Useful Garden Tools, 2017)
If humans are going to live in urban environments that are devoid of green spaces, then their well-being is highly at risk. Therefore, there is need to tackle the issue with increasing vigour to ensure that it is addressed. The issues of air, water, and noise pollution should be addressed immediately to ensure a healthier environment. Where the urban areas have already been constructed, it is critical to ensure that some modifications can be done to convert these spaces into green spaces. The lecture also discusses the issues of the work, home, and play environments. This aspect introduces an important point for this discussion; the improvement in the spaces shouldn’t just cover the domestic or home environment alone. The work environment should have green spaces. The play environment, including domestic yards, parks, and other play areas, should have green spaces to ensure that people who visit them access green spaces (Grunewald et al., 2017, p.187). Consequently, it seems that the achievement of healthy lifestyles requires green spaces in most areas. If one improves the home alone, health or well-being can be elusive. In fact, some individuals spend more time at work meaning that improving just the homestead cannot introduce substantial health benefits. The meaning of this is that home owners, government, employers, and other stakeholders should all collaborate in introducing green spaces (Grunewald et al., 2017, p.175). All these stakeholders can offer different types of help or support to ensure that there is a rounded approach to the introduction of green spaces.
Alexander, A. (2009). Britain’s New Towns: Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities. Routledge.
Beck, N. (2007). What Were the Main Ideas of the Garden Cities and how Far Did They Succeed? GRIN Verlag.
Berto, R. (2014). The Role of Nature in Coping with Psycho-Physiological Stress: A Literature Review on Restorativeness. Behavioural Sciences, 4(4), pp.394–409.
Grunewald, K., Li, J., Xie, G. and Kümper-Schlake, L. (2017). Towards Green Cities: Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in China and Germany. Springer.
Useful Garden Tools (2017). Planting a Garden in your Offce with 3 Steps I – Design a Green Space in your Workplace. [Online] Available at: http://www.usefulgardentools.com/2012/07/planting-garden-in-your-offce-with-3.html [Accessed 12 January 2018].