Marianne Dock

15th November 2013

Design for a Healthy Urban Environment:
How can built environment influence social sustainability

Back in the nineties WHO:s European network for Healthy Cities turned to architects and urban planners for help to overcome the problems with increased obesity and cardiovascular disorders. That was an attempts to see how different sectors in society could cross work and use urban planning as a tool to reach their goals. Since then more questions, regarding not only health factors as being fat or sick, have become a part of what the physical surroundings can do for a lot of things connected to health and social sustainability. In Sweden we have eleven public health objectives. The first and most important is about being able to participate in the society and to influence it. For an urban planner that means designing spaces and houses that supports social skills as for example trust, safety, security and possibilities to bond with your neighbours. When you start looking at different kinds of dwellings and their surroundings you will see places suited for participating and other social skills, but also places that are opposite and support insecurity and segregation. The lecture will show examples of these different designed neighbourhoods and places and what kind of interventions that could mean a change to reach a better social and educational space. Urban design cannot guarantee a better society or a better health but it can give the possibilities so each citizen has a fair chance to do make the kind of decisions that is good for both the individual and the society.

Marianne Dock is an architect at the City Planning Office in Malmö Sweden. She has been involved in the Commission for a social sustainable Malmö and leads the national subgroup Healthy Urban Planning under WHO:s Healthy Cities network. Latest report in English can be found at with the title “Healthy Urban Environment and Design”.

Marianne Dock Poster – Opens pdf