Health, happiness, well-being and safety in a post-war neighborhood

City / Country / Region: 
Groningen, northern Netherlands, the Netherlands
Commissioner(s) / Initiator(s): 

Expertise Center Architecture, Urbanism and Health

Local / Citizens' Knowledge Production as a Tool for Placemaking: 

The geographical framework of this project is the neighborhood: an area of limited size that frames people’s daily life: it contains their house, usually the shops they use for food, sometimes a bar or bistro or what is called a ‘social hub’: a place where they can meet and socialize. Since the eighteenth century, a growing body of knowledge has evolved that links the quality of the living environment to public health. Today, the way the urban layout promotes or frustrates healthy lifestyles has become the most important factor that explains the health difference between neighborhoods. A case study on a typical post-war housing estate canvasses the inhabitant’s perception of neighborhood characteristics that are unhealthy and unsafe. Place making, in this project, revolves on specific sites in the neighborhood as well as on the neighborhood as ‘branding’ its inhabitants’ lives.

Participatory Processes: 

Inhabitants determine the sites that are going to be redesigned in order to contribute to more safety, less accidents, and healthier lifestyles.

Safety, security and remembering trauma, as triggers for placemaking and local knowledge production over time:: 

The knowledge base of this project is based on people’s perception of life threatening, and therefore unsafe, situation – safety and trauma, in this project, are closely linked to health; violence and criminal behavior are not the only, and probabl not the most important threats to a life without trauma, insecurity and unsafety.

Digital Tools Used: 

Urban analysis, virtual reality

Bottom-Up Digital Practices: 

Co-creation, continuous interaction between professionals and designers. Only the inhabitants can properly assess the place they live in and the ways it frustrates healthier lifestyles. Questionnaires and virtual reality provide a treasure-trove of  data.

Disciplinary / Professional Field: 

Architecture, planning, design, co-creation, public health

Articles / Publications / Websites: 

First articles expected to be published in Spring 2021; ‘handbook’ based on this project expected in 2023