Sustainability, universal design and health in urban planning

Front page of the Our Common Future document with the United Nations logo.It’s not difficult to join the dots between universal design, sustainability and health. Universal Design in Sustainable Urban Planning is an article that pulls together these concepts under the umbrella of sustainable development. Three urban projects in Manhattan, Den Haag and Copenhagen are discussed. They show how sustainable urban planning can promote social interaction, health and wellbeing, and cultural expression. The article links the health back to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

The article cites the Burndtland Report which defines sustainability as, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The aim of the Brundtland Commission is to unite countries to pursue sustainable development together.

The article is available through SpringerLink or you can try for a free read via ResearchGate.


There is a fil rouge connecting Universal Design and sustainability which within the Brundtland Report can be recognized in the pillar of social sustainability. The demographic and epidemiological aspects that are affecting western countries, the definitions of health and healthy cities given by the World Health Organization and the international documents dealing with sustainable development oblige building designers and urban planners to reconsider their social role and become “health operators”.

The strict link between human beings and the built environment underlined both by Universal Design and International Classification of Functioning is the reasons why our cities and settlements need high quality urban spaces in order to enhance everyday life social dimension. Three urban projects in Manhattan, Den Haag and Copenhagen will be presented to show how sustainable urban planning can promote social interaction and inclusion, cohesion of communities, human health and well-being, cultural expression and dialogue among a wide diversity of people and cultures.