Designing buildings to make you fitter

In New York (one of my favourite places!) there are some interesting developments in buildings – which I heard about about last week.

Chilled out in the middle of Times Square!

There have been some subtle changes to buildings. And this is as a result of a a new Active Design Guide. The guide has been prepared as a collaboration of various of the Cities agencies – including Design and Construction, Health and Mental Hygiene, Transportation, City Planning, and Office of Management and Budget. They have also worked with a number of leading architectural practices.

The blurb suggests:

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, architects and urban reformers helped to defeat infectious diseases like cholera and tuberculosis by designing better buildings, streets, neighborhoods, clean water systems, and parks. In the 21st century, designers can again play a crucial role in combating the most rapidly growing public health epidemics of our time: obesity and its impact on related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Today, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet are second only to tobacco as the main causes of premature death in the United States. A growing body of research suggests that evidence-based architectural and urban design strategies can increase regular physical activity and healthy eating.

I was really interested to learn that some very simple changes have been adopted – including moving stairs back to the front of a building and hiding the lifts behind them! Then giving natural light to the stairs and playing music in the area! At the same time, turning off the music in lifts and making them more utilitarian. I guess this is reverse of what we have been doing – making lifts funky and relegating stairs to block-work finished ‘fire escapes’.

Active design is environmental design that encourages stair climbing, walking, bicycling, transit use, active recreation, and healthy eating.

The details are all available as a download on the NYC City website here.

So there is a green agenda too. Getting us away from the motor car! But there is another benefit in that public spaces have been improved to make walking and cycling easier. I saw some evidence of this when I was there with my daughter last year – Times Square closed to traffic!!

Much of what is being suggested is common sense – but can be very effective. The New York Times building is one of the pathfinder buildings.

The only thing I’m not so sure about is walking up to the 102 floor of the Empire State Building!!

By Tim GARRATT Posted in Business, Green stuff Tagged Active Design Guide, Empire State Building, Jade Garratt, , New York Times, NYC

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