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Exploring Urban Density: Maximising the Health Benefits and Minimising the Harm

The Heart Foundation presented an interactive seminar ‘Exploring Urban Density: Maximising the Health Benefit and Minimising the Harm’ on the 17th of August. The keynote speaker, Professor Billie Giles-Corti (University of Melbourne and University of Western Australia) discussed the link between the built environment and health. The evidence in support of density in terms of health benefits conveyed through walkability and access to amenities is increasing, however, Professor Giles-Corti asks what is ‘good’ density from a health perspective? What are the intended and unintended consequences of increased density? What types of amenities are associated with positive health in denser areas?

Of particular interest was the perspective of a health professional (Professor Giles-Corti), who presented her research on the impact of density on mortality, physical activity, respiratory health, mental health and special populations (such as older people and kids). The research covered both positive and negative health impacts of increasing urban densities and provided a set of recommendations seeking to mitigate the detrimental health effects of density.  These recommendations relate to noise, insulation, ventilation, ambient lighting, the size and location of higher density housing, the location of balconies and private open space, play areas for kids and opportunities for selective interaction, height of developments, crime prevention through environmental design, housing diversity, amenities, infrastructure and open space nearby and the relationship between housing, pedestrians and traffic.


After the keynote presentations, a panel including Associate Professor Carolyn Weitzman (University of Melbourne), Malcolm Snow (Places Victoria), Steve Dunn (Growth Areas Authority) and Peter Mares (Grattan Institute) responded to the recent research examining health impacts related to the built environment.  This was followed by a workshop where participants brainstormed in small groups about how planning could deliver better health outcomes in relation to specific themes.

For more information, click here.

healthy cities, urban planning, density, sustainable, urban design

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