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Health and the Built Environment: University of Groningen launches new Expertise center

03 July 2017

The University of Groningen proudly announces the launch of the expertise center Architecture, Urbanism and Health. The center is initiated by Professor Cor Wagenaar, chair of history and theory of architecture and urbanism, and professor by special appointment in Architecture, Urbanism and Health. The center is intimately linked with the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, and based at the Faculty of Arts.

Green city of the future
Reaching out across the borders of the faculties

Health promotion and prevention of diseases mark a new frontier of public health. People’s living conditions – the outdoor air quality (pollution), housing, the indoor climate of the buildings in which we work, whether we need to take the car or can also bike or walk (either to our destination or to public transportation stops) - have a tremendous impact on public health. Part of our living conditions is literally designed: our working places, our homes, the daily living patterns in cities. Architecture and urbanism have always played a major role in promoting public health. Today, health promotion includes strategies to redesign cities, reducing car dependency, enhancing walkability and cyclability, introducing smart mobility concepts, and provide easy access to greenery and healthy food. New care and cure facilities develop that culminate in the model of the medical neighborhood, resulting in completely new health landscapes.

Linking research and design

The Center works at the crossroads of two domains. Designing and redesigning cities and buildings is the task of architects and urbanists. They project new realities on the basis of research into the physical setting and the specific goals a design needs to realize. Historians and theoreticians are tasked with the critical analysis of their work. Public health, on the other hand, uses a fundamentally different type of vocabulary. It is overwhelmingly quantitative in nature and inspired by medicine, the professional environment it is part of. For the promotion of public health by architectural and urban interventions, both aspects are indispensable. Therefore, the Expertise Center feeds on the expertise accumulated in different disciplines in these faculties. These regard:

Prof. Menno Reijneveld (UMCG)
Prof. Gert de Roo (Faculty of Spatial Sciences)
Prof. Ina Horlings (Faculty of Spatial Sciences)
Prof. Cor Wagenaar (Head of the Center; Faculty of Arts)

Scope of the Center’s activities

The Center Architecture covers all scale levels, from cities to the interior of healthcare buildings. At the urban scale, the Center uses the healthy cities concept to analyze existing urban districts as well as projects for new development or renovation. It addresses aspects of car dependency, walkability, cyclability, access to social hubs, positive distraction, greenery, as well as the design qualities of streets, squares, and the open public spaces in postwar housing estates.

More information

For more information, please contact Prof. Cor Wagenaar:

Last modified:21 May 2019 2.57 p.m.
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