Books: Design and Planning For Healthy Places

Phase 1 of the Health and Places Initiative developed three books.

D. Mah and L. Ascencio Villoria eds. 2016. Life-Styled: Health and Places. Berlin: Jovis.

Led by David Mah and Leire Asensio, the project systematically varyied health-relevant design and planning variables to create improved neighborhood or district designs. The prototypes demonstrate a rare case of design options used as a research method that can contribute to the theory and methods of architecture. Life-Styled: Health and Places, featuring prototypes of healthy places, aimed at designers, has been published by Jovis.

Click here to watch a webinar recording about prototypes for healthier places.

P. Rowe, A. Forsyth, and Har Ye Kan. China’s Urban Communities: Concepts, Contexts, and Well-being. Berlin: Birkhäuser.

Chinese urbanization is one of the important phenomena of the last decades of the twentieth century and early decades of the current one. It has enormous implications for the economy, environment, and culture. What are these urban communities in China like particularly in the large cities where high urban densities have become the norm? Drawing on work in 25 fairly ordinary neighborhoods, developed and redeveloped over the past three decades, China’s Urban Communities, by Peter Rowe, Ann Forsyth, and Har Ye Kan looks at the physical character of these areas through the lens of the well-being of their inhabitants. The four metropolitan areas these neighborhoods are located in—Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Souzhou—have a track record of both expansion and densification and provide an important lens for examining the wider array of urban situations in China where smaller cities are now the leading edge of growth.

Built by ordinary real estate developers for the emerging middle class, the projects on the whole do fairly well as places to live. People live in compact dwellings but these are far larger in previous decades. Neighborhoods generally provide a range of the services and opportunities needed to live a healthy life. However, some typical Chinese patterns of development—including the walled superblock enclave—make it difficult to have a fully integrated city. The coming wave of aging also poses new challenges explored in this publication.

A. Forsyth, E. Salomon, and L. Smead. 2017. Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Evidence-based Planning and Design Strategies.


Drawing on research briefshealth assessments tools, and academic publications, the GSD team, led by Dr. Ann Forsyth, synthesized existing research on the multiple dimensions connecting health and place at the neighborhood or district scale—from air quality to mental health.  Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Evidence-based Planning and Design Strategies by Ann Forsyth, Emily Salomon, and Laura Smead was published in 2017 by APA Planners Press and Routledge.

Creating Healthy Neighborhoods translates research about health and well-being into practical guidelines and considers how planners, designers, civic leaders, and activists can create places that reflect a broader concept of health or well-being. The team uses guidance based on research findings where those are available and fill the research gaps using frameworks about how health and place are related more generally and in relation to specific topics and types of places. In addition, the process of implementing new ideas is not unique to health but rather draws on a larger base of research evidence and professional experience. So this book is a publication of ideas and guidelines for good planning and design, filtered through the lens of health.