Journal of South Architecture

Discourse on Healthy Cities and Healing Environments

DUHongwu, LIShuhua, JIANGBin, CHENZheng, LONGHao, YUANXiaomei


The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council released a plan in October 2016 entitled “Outline of the Plan of ‘Healthy China 2030’.”The objective outlined in the plan was to “integrate health into the whole process of urban-rural planning, construction and governance, and promote the harmonious development between cities and human health.”As an indispensable part of building a healthy China, the healing environment concept has proven integral to the physiological and psychological health of human beings. The early achievements made in the psychological science and rehabilitation fields have gradually impacted landscape architecture, urban planning and architecture. In modern high-density city settlements, particularly since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the importance of healing environments has been highlighted. In recent years, scholars have expanded on and deepened the research by investigating blue-green spaces at different levels, as well as the natural elements of a built environment. They have also attempted to utilize experimental means wherever possible, making remarkable progress in the process. The editorial department of this journal organized an academic conversation on the topic, Healthy Cities and Healing Environments. Six scholars from different backgrounds were invited to take part in a focused, yet diverse, discussion. Based on the relationship between green and health on the urban scale, Li Shuhua explained that cities are places where humans gather and live and, thus, such places continue to develop with the evolution of our species. An ideal city should conform to people,s collective desire for a better life. It should not only meet the needs associated with sustainable ecological development but also provide people with an appropriate living environment in favor of human health. The Green Healthy City Theory provides an ideal perspective toward alleviating current “Urban diseases”and “Urban population health issues”. The Otemachi Forest in the center of Tokyo represents a practical pioneering case of the Green Healthy City Theory. Based on relations between humans, nature and cities, the current study traced the development of ideal cities in Europe, America, Japan and China, and discussed the principles and constituent elements that should be adhered to during practical construction of a green healthy city. There are evident differences among different races in terms of the COVID-19 infection rate in the United States (US), which reflect health justice issues. Therefore, Jiang Bin et al. hypothesized that such differences among races are significantly reduced in areas where green space coverage is high. Taking control over variables covering socioeconomic characteristics and chronic diseases, the current study measured the correlation between racial differences in the COVID-19 infection rate and green space coverage using a multi-linear regression model. The findings from the study revealed that, at the county level, higher green space coverage could significantly reduce racial differences of COVID-19 infection rate. Further, four green space types were found to contribute to this reduction. Finally, an encircling mechanism and five core mechanisms were established to interpret such correlation. Du Hongwu et al. determined that it is extremely important that high-density urban scenery meet people,s restorative needs, which were highlighted during the COVID-19 outbreak. Two types of sky gardens, which are grown outside well-designed office buildings and residential buildings, both promote restoration. However, their spatial morphologies, influential factors and action mechanisms differ. The spatial locations , combinations and relations between spaces should be arranged in a way that increases the restorative benefits of sky gardens. Toward improving the quality of sky gardens, the influential factors impacting the restorative benefits of sky gardens should be explored further. These include visual accessibility, the spatial level of sky gardens and the green view rates. It is also important to establish supportive environments, to strengthen multifunctionality, to diversify activity types and to increase participation and usage rates.Zheng et al. believed that green contact in cities is crucial for the promotion of urban residents, health. In practical projects, full consideration to functions and the use of streets has to be given to such green contact in order that the associated health benefits are realized. Combining the street reconstruction for a park city in Chengdu, Zheng et al. investigated the walking and business-facility use preferences of 40 respondents in specific street scenes as well as the green space alongside streets for the remainder of the behavioral experiment. Moreover, their first impressions and sub-dimensional evaluation findings of the street environment were collected. At the same time, eye positions of respondents in their relevant choices or evaluations were recorded using an SMI Redn Professional desktop eye tracker. The results of the study provide support for decision-making in the design of healthy streets. Long Hao attempted to review and elaborate on the specific applications of evidence-based design in the design and construction of rehabilitation gardens. He believed that as an important psychological and physiological rehabilitation space in CCRC-type aging communities, rehabilitation gardens should be implemented to improve functions of gardens in psychological counseling based on evidence-based design. The psychological health, depression and anxiety of the aged residents are becoming increasingly prominent issues as the closed management in medical and nursing institutions for the aged is becoming increasingly common as a result of COVID19. It is expected that the current study will provide reference points and assistance in thinking about rehabilitation garden design into the future and offering a feasible psychological health space for CCRC-type aging communities. Focusing on the age-friendly city framework of the World Health Organization (WHO), Yuan Xiaomei proposed the concept of a “community environment of health management for the aged.”This concept helps to establish the key technological system of “the aged+environment+life”from the perspectives of “comfort and safety”, “encouragement in activities”, “intimacy to nature”and “interaction.”She aims to integrate rehabilitation therapy into daily outdoor activities for the aged and provide them with an effective environmental solution to their health-and life-related issues. In the current study, the health performance and application potential of relevant technologies were described through their combination with the findings of the preliminary research and evidence-based practices put forward by the research team led by Professor Yuan Xiaomei.


healthy city; healing environment; green healthy city; health justice; health benefit; rehabilitation community

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Copyright (c) 2024 Hongwu DU, Shuhua LI, Bin JIANG, Zheng CHEN, Hao LONG, Xiaomei YUAN

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