Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation

The growing world population is increasingly centred in urban areas. Advances in many aspects of healthcare mean that people are living longer, but rapid and often unplanned urbanisation has impacted their quality of life. Unhealthy diets, reduced physical exercise, and other poor lifestyle choices, have increased demands on healthcare systems and led to greater numbers of premature deaths. Poorly planned urban development has increased pollution, affected housing standards, reduced access to green spaces, and fostered stress-related illness.

The Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation has been established to foster a better understanding of the interaction between these two disciplines to make urban centres environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable, and to provide an environment that supports and sustains health and wellbeing.

The Centre brings together leading and influential thinkers in an interdisciplinary approach embracing evidence based healthcare, sustainable urban development, and education, and provides a collaborative forum for organisations active in these disciplines.

The centre will:
• Ask vital questions on the role of cities in healthcare and wellbeing to better understand the impact and consequences of urbanisation
• Create a network of like-minded partners that work to improve the health and wellbeing of urban populations to harness collective knowledge and facilitate research
• Train and inform the next leaders in healthcare and urbanisation to nurture the highest standards
• Undertake research and scholarship at the intersection of healthcare and urbanisation to inform recommendations for future practice

Central to the work of the Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation (GCHU) is a series of seminars – open to practitioners, researchers, and members of the public interested in all aspects of healthy cities and lifestyles. These thematic seminars are designed to stimulate lively discussion, and encourage engagement on a wide variety of topics that influence our built environment and quality of life.. These thematic seminars are designed to stimulate lively discussion and encourage engagement on a wide variety of topics that influence our built environment and quality of life.

Cities play a vital role for all forms of human and biophysical health, a function that will only grow as rapid urbanisation, climate change and natural resource depletion advance. Cities have the potential to be health-generating places, helping to frame nature-society relations.

Physical cities, mental bridges

The Centre explores the links between the built environment, the urban fabric of place, and the emotional and biophysical matters of minds and bodies in cities – for residents, visitors, and workers. Social, political and economic aspects of urban design are assessed and critiqued alongside current innovative solutions, and the future provision of healthcare in cities. How far do current trends in well-being merely cater for the middle classes, with time and finances to invest in bettering their leisure lives, compared to addressing the needs of lower-income residents, facing greater financial and everyday livelihood pressures? The Centre addresses the role of city spaces, social prescribing and urban design for improving the physical and mental health for all residents; exploring the notion of the everyday built-in ‘urban gym’ and green infrastructure to change current practice and attitudes, with potential benefits for the natural world around. Safe, high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure leads to more exercise: living within one kilometre of a cycleway leads to about 45 minutes more exercise per week than living four kilometres away.

Healthy densities, future healthcare

The density of the urban environment, in terms of buildings and people, continues to raise positive and negative consequences for everyday city living. High densities have historically been seen as the cause of poor health, whereas increased density, mixed land-use urban neighbourhoods have been heralded as a core component of sustainable urbanism, countering decades of urban sprawl. Agglomerations of people can facilitate concentrated, efficient healthcare provision. Density matters, and will play an increasingly central role for the future economic, social, political and biophysical state of our cities, and their populations. The Centre focuses on the potential of urban concentrations and their relationship to rural surrounds to prevent, but also alarmingly to promote, communicable diseases across local and global scales. Nevertheless, four main chronic, non-communicable diseases account for 60 percent of global morbidity and mortality: diabetes, respiratory disease, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. These diseases are a global crisis and require a global response, but most countries, most politicians and most of the public remain unaware of the growing crises, despite affordable and cost-effective preventive measures being readily available. Measures which can most effectively, and most rapidly, be applied in urban areas are a key focus of the Centre, and a core component for the creation and curation of healthy built environments.

Relevant technologies, changing urban lives

The Centre focuses on the relationship between technologies, urban planning and city living. How are appropriate traditional technologies, in architecture, transport and social communication for example, being blended with current and future concepts of smart urbanism? How can greater access to technology assist forward planning in areas of rapid urbanisation with limited professional skills in sustainable urban development? The relationship between informal development and urban dwellers’ physical and social well-being are a key focus, with the aim to promote greater understanding of the economic, social and environmental benefits of longer term investment in effective and adaptive infrastructure and technologies. Evidence-based research and practice are key to the Centre’s research agenda, combining the intuitive use of best past practice, with emerging innovations in the use of large data sets, future scenario modelling, and real-time responses to today’s urban challenges.

The Prince’s Foundation

Working with communities and partners around the country and around the world, The Prince’s Foundation promotes and champions a sustainable approach to how we live our lives and build our homes.

From heritage-led regeneration through to new build projects, it does this through assisting, advising and taking the lead.

The Centre hosts a series of seminars – open to the public – throughout the year. These lively discussions bring together a panel of speakers to address contemporary, and often controversial, issues in healthcare and urbanisation. All of our previous seminars are available to watch online.

Venice Biennale summer school with the European Cultural Academy
Monday 13 September – Friday 24 September, 2021

Study for two weeks in a Venetian Palace and learn from the past to re-build the future for sustainable, healthy cities. The design studio is led by Dr David Howard (Kellogg College Oxford and Co-Director of the GCHU) and Dr Matthew Hardy (Prince’s Foundation and Visiting Fellow Kellogg College). The COVID-19 crisis will not dominate the studio’s learning focus, rather it will reflect on how urban populations, and practitioners engage in the built environment and have contended with health crisis in the past.

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Online conference:

On 15 October, GCHU held an online conference in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation and SK Telecom, entitled Growing Enterprise Value – Generating Alpha, click below to read more.

Growing Enterprise Value – Generating Alpha

The Centre hopes to resume face-to-face events as soon as circumstances permit.

Our GCHU seminars are filmed and are available to download and watch below.

This list also includes seminars from the Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange (KUKE), a precursor to the launch of the centre.

Title Speaker Date Download
Delivering healthcare for rapid urbanisation Annette Pluddemann, Lucy Stevens, Hubert Lam, Mikaela Patrick, Carl Henneghan 23-Jan-20 Download
Managing migration: cities, governance, integration Cecile Riallant, Colleen Thouez, David Howard, Thomas Lacroix 10-Jan-20 Download
Next steps? Mixed use, walkable cities Karen Barrass, Daniel Elsea, Joanne Murraybrown, Ben Murphy, David Howard 24-Oct-19 Download
Europe, Migration and Cities Sarah Spencer, Phoebe Clay, Michael Keith 09-Jul-19 Download
Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange seminar: Healthy Cities Carl Heneghan, Danny McDonnell, Sian Whyte, Chris Naylor 08-Jan-19 Download
Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange: Rapid Urbanisation Fiona Harvey, Peter Osborn, Ben Bolgar, Bob Allies, Victoria Hills 27-Jun-18 Download
Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange: Urban Heritage Geoffrey Tyack, Leidulf Mydland, Debbie Dance, Barbara Weiss, Oliver Cox 07-Jun-18 Download
Kellogg Urban Knowledge Exchange: Urban Public Art Cathy Oakes, Leon Wainwright, Clare Melhuish, Sean Henry, Steven Parissien 24-Apr-18 Download

If you would like to discuss becoming a collaborator with GCHU, commissioning research by the Centre, or sponsoring part of its programme, we would be delighted to have an exploratory discussion with you. For this or any further enquiries please contact:

Venice Biennale Summer School

If you’re interested in the future for sustainable, healthy cities, sign-up below for the Venice Biennale Summer School, with GCHU Co-Director Dr David Howard and Dr Matthew Hardy from the Prince’s Foundation, in partnership with the European Cultural Academy and The Prince’s Foundation.

Venice Biennale summer school with the European Cultural Academy

Monday 13 – Friday 24 September 2021

Study for two weeks in a Venetian Palace with GCHU Co-Director Dr David Howard and Dr Matthew Hardy from the Prince’s Foundation. Learn from the past to re-build the future for sustainable, healthy cities.

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The Centre will be running a series of seminars, open to the public, throughout the year.

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