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Healthy City Design 2019

Healthy City Design 2019 Highlights

By SALUS User Experience Team 02 Dec 2019 0

Against a background of global climate change, healthier cities are shaped by taking tough decisions on issues such as air quality, resilience planning, working practices, active travel, sustainable homes and green spaces. The 3rd Healthy City Design 2019 International Congress asked 'how can we design a thriving, health-inducing future for all citizens?' In this video, participants discuss the importance of the congress to international research, practice and policy development.


The movement to develop healthier cities appears to be coming to a crossroads. On one hand, there is a utopian vision of urban change and renewal. In this scenario, walking, cycling and public transport addresses over-reliance on the car; effective resilience planning stops the spread of infectious diseases and mitigates the effects of climate change; flexible working strategies and environments reduce stress and improve productivity; and access to safe, affordable housing, green spaces and healthy local food underscore a commitment to community wellbeing. Technological advances and AI are safely integrated into our daily lives, enhancing city services, increasing efficiencies and improving the quality of life for all citizens in a fair and equitable way. As a result, a significant burden is lifted off formal healthcare services.

The alternative vision is dystopian. In this scenario, indoor and outdoor air quality deteriorates further as cars clog up the roads; more than 500 cities are threatened with flooding, and many more with water shortages and heatwaves more intense than before; tensions rise between business districts and areas of urban deprivation; ‘food deserts’ increase; and green spaces are gobbled up by development. Healthcare services, in this scenario, start to collapse under exceptional pressure and demand.

In this, our 3rd Healthy City Design International Congress, Exhibition & Gala Dinner, we addressed the question of designing for utopia or dystopia. In a world where the effects of population migration and ageing play out amid rapid urbanisation, how can we support cities to take a healthier path? How can we ensure that, despite the best intentions of policymakers, urban planners, public health professionals, architects, designers and developers, our worst dystopian nightmares don’t come true? Environmentalist Sir David Attenborough’s impassioned plea to save our planet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January this year, effectively sketched out the destructive path we’re currently on.

Bridging the gap between research, policy and practice

The 3rd Healthy City Design 2019 International Congress, Exhibition & Gala Dinner is a global forum for the exchange of knowledge on the research, policy and practice of designing healthy and sustainable cities and communities. Each day opened and closed with keynote plenary sessions before splitting up into four streams (eight in total). Day one focused on: urban design and placemaking; homes and neighbourhoods; work and workplace; and smarter cities. Day two covered: sustainable development; city planning and the public realm; place-based health; and mobility, travel and transport.

The event also hosted a poster gallery of innovative research and projects, a knowledge-focused exhibition space, and an evening gala and networking dinner with a keynote address from Lord Nigel Crisp, a world-leading thinker in the design of healthy communities.

Join colleagues from across the spectrum of research, practice and policy at next year's 4th Healthy City Design 2020 International Congress, from 12-13 October at the Royal College of Physicians, London to participate and contribute to this important dialogue. Visit or contact us at