Design Council looks to make people “happier and healthier” in built environments

Written by: Aimée McLaughlin
Published on: 9 Apr 2017

The Design Council and Social Change UK collaboration hopes to set out how urban designers can tackle social and health issues such as diabetes through the design of buildings and public spaces.


The Design Council has launched a new national research survey looking at how the design of built environments in the UK can be used to tackle health and social issues, including obesity, mental health, physical inactivity and the needs of an ageing population.

The Creating Healthy Places research project has been launched in collaboration with social research company Social Change UK, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the challenges urban designers and architects face when trying to create healthier places.

“Healthier places in which to live and work”

The survey has been initiated within the context of growing pressures on health and social care services across the UK, in particular due to preventable diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For instance, roughly 700 people a day – or one every two minutes – are diagnosed with diabetes, according to Diabetes UK.

The project looks to highlight how development and regeneration can play a role in addressing health issues like diabetes by creating “healthier places in which to live and work”, says the Design Council’s executive director for architecture, built environment and design, Clare Devine.

“We’re not seeing healthy environments being created at scale”

“Despite the growing evidence of the vital role place-making can play in improving health, we are not seeing healthy environments being created at the scale required. We instigated this research as now it is time to tackle these issues through the way we shape our buildings, streets, parks and neighbourhoods,” says Devine.

The survey follows the launch of the Design Commission’s People and Places report last month, which made recommendations to the Government on how the public and private sectors can work more closely together and influence people’s behaviour in the way they design spaces.

Creating Healthy Places will run until 7 May 2017, with the results being made publicly available in June. For more information visit the Design Council site.