Can urban design influence our health?

Nov. 2015

Ever wondered why you keep visiting certain streets while avoiding others? Check a bit further and there’s a good chance you’ll see that the streets you like have lots of open doors and windows on the ground level, are full of interesting elements such as plants, sculptures and captivating architecture, and always have something going on – often the result of the lively atmosphere created by shops, restaurants and cafés. 

On the other hand you most likely avoid walking down dull streets that offer nothing but long, solid walls of concrete or glass, empty sidewalks and fast driving cars. However, the impact of street design goes deeper than our tendency to visit or avoid a place. More and more studies show that street design affects not only our behavior, but also our health: boring cityscapes can increase Sustainable Citiessadness, addiction and disease-related stress.

Since cities are today’s most common type of community settlement — with the expectation that, by2050, 75% of the world's population will live in cities, it is enormously important that we plan our cities and streets in a responsible, thoughtful manner.

With quality of life in Israel as its principal goal, the Council for a Beautiful Israel has made Sustainable Urbanism a top priority. One of our recent activities in this field is taking part in the Israel Urban Forum. This month the forum's first Convention on Urbanism was successfully hosted in the city of Akko, bringing together stakeholders from all relevant sectors with the goal of establishing a policy and a platform for urban dialogue.