Introducing health as a driver for sustainability in the architectural curriculum

Project details

Duration: January 2011 – July 2011

Sponsor: Centre for Education in the Built Environment

Project leader for WHO CC: Elena Marco

Project summary

This project seeks to introduce health into the architectural curriculum as a major driver for sustainable design. The project will establish a health-related cross-professional development programme for healthy urban environments, which will be disseminated across the higher education sector.


Increasingly, evidence shows that health risk is linked to issues such as obesity, climate change, access to good quality local food, community infrastructure, air quality and noise pollution. As such the built environment is seen as an important determinant of health. So, the professionals responsible for our built environment need to understand the connections of their actions to public health and their ability to influence the health and well being of the population. Educational institutions therefore need to be equipped to deliver health-aware architects.

CABE, in "Future health: sustainable places for health and well-being" (2009), says that for a good design we don’t only need to modernise the healthcare system, but also need to promote health and wellbeing through encouraging the design of sustainable places. Health, well-being and the environment are interdependent and we need to take care to design for them together. Enabling healthy lifestyles means saving health treatment costs, especially important in the context of an aging population.


This will be achieved through a pilot study which incorporates a ‘health practitioner in residence’ into the postgraduate design studio. The practitioner will make core resources available, will question the students, and the students will learn about health and how they can address the issues in their designs. They will then be able to demonstrate an awareness of the links between health, architecture and sustainability.

Through an extremely strong and focussed programme of dissemination it is expected that once the pilot study is complete and the ideas it has generated have been developed, the scheme can be rolled-out across the country, creating a new generation of health-aware architects who design healthier and more sustainable buildings as a result.