Freo's View

URBAN DESIGN IMPORTANT FOR WELLBEING

Posted in environment, fremantle, urban design by freoview on October 25, 2014

I am very interested in urban design because I believe that if we get that part of developing our cities right it will create a better lifestyle and better health, so it was interesting to hear the concerns about “Urban Heat Islands” on ABC TV last night.

Urban Heat Islands are the areas in cities that have an elevation of temperatures compared to the areas directly adjacent to them and can add up to six degrees to an area. It is often a result of urban design problems, e.g. not enough urban green open space and insufficient trees.

But the colour of roofs and walls of buildings are also important, with dark colours a big no-no in warmer climates like Fremantle. It is important to build more solar-passive houses and enlarge the tree canopy, and there is the need for more green vegetation that is supported by irrigation.

It was interesting to hear that the City of Sao Paulo in Brazil has added 200 square kilometres of green space over the last years to fight pollution and improve the health of the residents. This should be a lesson for Fremantle where we are losing green space and trees and are contemplating to build on Pioneer Park, when we should really be adding new green open spaces in the central city.

In this light the following from the University of Canberra is also important, so please do the survey as it will help all of us to better understand.

The University of Canberra has launched an Urban Wellbeing Survey that is focussed on collecting and providing information about wellbeing and way of life in Australia’s most populous cities.

This survey is distinctive because it covers much more than health and wellbeing; it also covers factors that can have a big effect on wellbeing, such as travel, access to services, community wellbeing and social connectedness.

Here is a summary of what it covers:
§ Socio-demographic characteristics
§ Walkable urban design
§ Travel behaviours and attitudes
§ Building comfort in work and home
§ Access to and quality of amenities and services
§ Neighbourhood cohesion, governance & safety
§ Social participation, inclusion and exclusion
§ Physical activity
§ Connectedness, efficacy and marginalisation
§ Mental health and wellbeing
§ Physical health and health behaviours

The survey is open now through November at: http://www.urbanwellbeing.org.au. Anyone over 18 can do it and can enter the prize draw if they want to. We also have a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/urbanwellbeing.org.au.

The Urban survey is being conducted in tandem with the Regional Wellbeing Survey which covers all of regional, rural and remote Australia, as well as the rural-urban fringe: http://www.regionalwellbeing.org.au.

The urban and regional versions of the survey are linked so that people can choose whether they go into the urban or regional version when they begin the survey based on where they live.

Roel Loopers

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