New framework for ‘community wellbeing’ touts new design paradigm

The design features of cities, communities and buildings can create conditions that promote and foster individual and community health and wellbeing, according to a new report by The Conference Board of Canada in collaboration with DIALOG.

Being physically active, buying healthy foods, building and maintaining social relationships, biking or walking to work, and participating in recreational activity can all be influenced by the design features of communities and cities. Elements such as connected streets, bike paths, and good public transit can promote physical activity by supporting active transport. Similarly, access to healthier food options can promote better diets and health, while creating spaces for social interactions and accessible opportunities for employment and volunteering can have an influence on mental health and loneliness.Community Wellbeing, Conference Board of Canada, DIALOG

“There are considerable costs associated with poor health for individuals, employers, and society as a whole. Canada’s total health expenditure in 2017 is estimated to be $242 billion,” said Thy Dinh, Director, Health Economics and Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. “Through design, places where people live, learn, work, and play can be used to make healthy choices the easier choice. From an economic standpoint, healthy and happy citizens contribute to a prosperous society.”

The Conference Board of Canada partnered with DIALOG to develop a practical tool for urban planners, architects, design professionals and community stakeholders to help guide conversations and evaluate design decisions that promote community wellbeing. It prompts design professionals to consider the full spectrum of design features that impact on wellbeing.

The Framework identifies five conditions that contribute to community wellbeing: social, environmental, economic, political and cultural. Each domain includes key indicators and metrics that help design professionals assess a project’s contribution to community wellbeing.

Community Wellbeing: A Framework for Design Professions is publicly available from The Conference Board’s e-Library, linked here.