Re-Connecting Housing and Health for a Better Future

Elizabeth Burton reminds us of the close connection between housing and health, and proposes better ways to gauge how housing may affect the health and well-being of residents.

December 9, 2012, 1:00 PM PST

By Erica Gutiérrez


Until the early 1900s, asserts Burton, the relationship between housing and health was seen as inextricably linked. Over time, health moved into the domain of healthcare provision, architecture became more closely aligned with art, and town planning with economic and environmental concerns. Shining light on the health challenges of contemporary life, including the rise of lifestyle-related diseases, coupled with increased human longevity, she urges us to do away with these artificial silos, and to realign our concerns with health and well-being by envisioning the "housing of the future”.

When Burton refers to health, she is referring to more than just physical health and obesity, but rather overall well-being and happiness. She points to several possible key features for designing homes with well-being in mind-- including the provision of “better space” that is organized and designed to accommodate families as they relax together or alternatively, as each member does their own thing. Other features in housing could aim to “boost our mood” such as the incorporation of abundant natural light and views of green space.

Finally, she compares the possibility of a rating system for housing to that of rating food, "[j]ust as for food we know not just what we like to eat but also what is likely to be good for us, [similarly] in housing we could know a bit more about how a home is likely to affect different aspects of our well-being."

Thursday, December 6, 2012 in The Guardian (UK)

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