The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, in Article 25, that every person has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family.
Included in these needs are housing, food, medical care, clothing, security, and social services. Security is required if events that are beyond a person’s control occur.
It has been shown by researchers that there is a strong correlation between a person’s physical and mental health and proper housing.
The Correlation Between Urban Design And Well Being
The World Health Organization’s Housing and Health Guidelines Executive Summary, housing that has been designed poorly can cause a surge in the risk of falling, tripping, isolation, injury, and stress for elders or disabled people.
Insecure or unaffordable housing can further increase stress.
If the house is too hot or too cold or increases indoor air pollution, it can cause cardiometabolic and respiratory issues.
A poor water supply in a house, in addition to it being crowded, can aid the spread of diseases.
The Director of the Urban Design Group, London, Robert Huxford, said that the relationship between health and housing design has attracted a lot of questions since time immemorial.
He said that it has often been forgotten that the associations between urban design and health go back hundreds of years.
He added that there was a public health movement in the 19th century.
He said that lighting, ventilation, dampness, overcrowding, and sanitation were focused on. The minimum width of streets, minimum spaces around buildings were also in the focus. It was also proposed that rooms with inhabitants must have windows that were at least 1/10th of the floor area.
He added that it was unfortunate that this vision is not being implemented over 100 years later as developers are looking to make windowless flats.
The Covid pandemic has brought historical concerns around infectious disease and housing to the front, according to Huxford.
Huxford said that the main causes of death in the 19th century were diseases like cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis and that these diseases were brought under control by the public health works.
He added that it was further aided by medical sciences advancing.
The fact that we remain vulnerable to infectious disease has been shown by the Covid pandemic. International concern is the prospect of drug-resistant diseases.
He said that urban design providing resilience to the risk of infectious disease is of the utmost importance.
Researchers backed up Huxford’s point by finding an association between Covid incidence and the amount of poor-quality housing in a county of the United States.
The Chair of the Urban Design Group, Katja Stille, who is also the Director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design said that a direct effect is had by urban design choices on a person’s health.
Stille said that air pollution and noise pollution from road traffic are the main factors that affect a person’s mental health and physical health.
She said that people’s ability to exercise will be negatively impacted by living in a society that is car-dependent. He added that this encourages a sedentary lifestyle that puts you on the path to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
He said that to avoid obesity, it is important to be physically active throughout the day by walking and cycling.
Dr. Steven Fleming, a renowned author also highlights the issues of an urban design that is centered around cars.
He said that a house with a garage has been designed to help you use your car for everything and an apartment block is slightly better as it requires people to use the stairs to get home.