The design of cities directly affects human and environmental health, and with health and ecological disasters taking place seemingly daily around the world, there is an increasing urgency for public health and urban design professionals to collaborate to improve the built environment.
Over the next six months, the University of Louisville’s Urban Design Studio (UDS), part of the Department of Urban and Public Affairs, will explore how the city of Louisville can serve as a living laboratory for research, education and experimentation at the Healthful City. Design studio at 429 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. This temporary pop-up location, an addition to the current UDS location in the Portland neighborhood, provides a space in which community members can delve into issues and opportunities specific to the downtown core.
“This is an exciting opportunity to bring together the threads of urban planning and design, public health, equity, ecology, engineering, economics and more to focus on how these overlapping facets of the city can not only solve the problems we face today, but also position our downtown and our city for the future,” said Patrick Piuma, director of the ‘UDS.”I believe we have the talented minds throughout our community to examine these aspects of our city, and our hope is to find ways to unleash the creativity needed to become a leader in this space.”
To launch the pop-up, Piuma, alongside colleague and entrepreneur Sylvanus Hudson, will develop a series of events, workshops, demonstration projects and more to bring together professionals and the local community to explore how the built environment affects health and what it means to be a healthy city. The team will be joined by collaborators from other UofL departments, the Louisville Metropolitan Government, the University of Kentucky, and related organizations and individuals as the direction of the initiative takes shape.
The first events and activities will focus on awareness and education, bringing people together to share ideas about what a healthy city looks like and collaborative demonstration projects to communicate the importance of cooling urban heat islands, improve air and water quality, plant trees and other vegetation. , public safety, welcoming environments and the health benefits of bringing nature back into the urban environment.
“The pandemic has revealed the importance of the built environment to health and the value of safe and healthy places to promote public health and resilience,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, director of the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute.
The goal of the effort will be to create a unique urban laboratory for innovation where UofL will become a stronger partner with the community, government officials and others to develop new solutions to the challenges facing our city. This initiative is an offshoot of the downtown revitalization team’s action plan, which calls for making the downtown more vibrant, clean, safe and welcoming.
“It is essential for Louisville to invest in its natural and built environments to improve the health of residents, as well as to be a competitive city in the 21st Century,” said Jeff O’Brien, co-head of Louisville Forward. “We can design our cities to prepare for climate change and improve our health, while making the city a more vibrant and equitable place.”
The UDS initiative will build on previous programs such as the Sustainable City Series Public Forums that raised awareness of sustainable practices and led to place-making projects such as ReSurfaced and CycLOUvia.
The Healthful City Design Studio opens on Monday, November 8.