Urban design and active living

An infographic from the guide focused on buildings.Healthy active living is a good thing but it isn’t just about joining an exercise class or a gym. It’s about a whole of life approach to a process none of us can avoid – ageing. So it begins with the design of our built environment – the everyday places and spaces, including our homes. But does being ‘active by design’ include thoughts of older people and people with disability? 

Healthy Active by Design is a Heart Foundation online resource. This website is a practical guide that offers evidence, advice and examples to assist with the development of healthy and active neighbourhoods. It covers:

Public Open Space
Community Facilities
Housing Diversity
Sense of Place
Movement Networks
Healthy Food

Each section leads to more information and checklists. There is little mention of older people and people with disability in any of the section checklists. “Accessible” and “accessibility” are mentioned a few times but these terms mean different things to different practitioners. 

In terms of housing, this is expressed as housing choice and aged care facilities and specialised accommodation. Unfortunately, old assumptions about the accommodation needs of older people are solved by age-segregation. While the guide is focused on younger cohorts it offers good information for taking a whole of built environment approach to active design. The video below gives an outline. 

Editor’s Comment: I think this is another case of an organisation forgetting the National Disability Strategy which should be considered from the outset. It’s likely that hired consultants have no idea about the overarching Australian policies when devising resources. Inclusion, by definition, is not something separate to add at the end.



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