Conference Agenda

A: Paper Session_T2: Public Health and Well-Being
Thursday, 08/Apr/2021:
9:45am - 11:15am

Panel Moderator: Saif Haq


Built and Social Environment Impact on Covid-19 Transmission

Ming Hu, Jennifer Roberts

University of Maryland, United States of America

The goal of this research was to investigate the multifaceted interrelationships between the built and social environments and the impact of this relationship on population-level health in the context of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). More specific, this study assessed the relationship between several social determinants of health, including housing quality, living condition, travel pattern, race/ethnicity, household income, and COVID-19 outcomes in Washington, D.C (DC). Using built environment and social environment data extracted from DC energy benchmarking database and the American Community Survey database, more than 130,000 housing units were analyzed against COVID-19 case counts, death counts, mortality rate, age adjusted incidence rate and fatality rate data for DC wards. The results demonstrated that housing quality, living condition, race and occupation were strongly correlated with COVID death count.

Intentional and Unintentional Performance: Analyzing the Validity and Agency of Ancient Environmental Design on Contemporary Architecture Advancement

Sandra Maria Bernal Cordova1, Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar2, Ivan Eladio Gaxiola Camacho1

1The University of Arizona, United States of America; 2Watershed Management Group, United States of America

Globally adverse environmental conditions, such as land degradation, lack and pollution of fresh water, and extreme temperature levels (United Nations, 2017), represent the rationale for incorporating cross-scalar and interdisciplinary knowledge, looking forward to achieving a more adaptive urban environment. Thus, in face of climate crisis due to global dilapidation of natural resources, we aim to emphasize the need to abandon arbitrary design approaches and consider the innovative concept of a resilient architecture object, a dynamic system that depends on-, and adapts to need, demand, and availability of natural resources to develop the artificial environment.

This research involves the analysis of photographic material focused on intentional and unintentional spatial elements considered as agents modifying the interaction of humans with the built environment. The goal is to reach a critical identification and re-interpretation of elements of sustainable lifestyle in vernacular architecture from ancient cultures, contemporary architecture, and a case study in Tucson Arizona. Considering the “building as a dynamic system” concept, using the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus perspective (Saundry &Ruddell, 2020) and a chronological evaluation of architectural work, trackable architectural research paths will be suggested.

Building on the work of Donella Meadows, this research will set the stage for dialogic information exchange regarding the triple bottom line - emphasizing the eco-economic decoupling. The sections are: 1.- Contextual information on the FEW nexus, and on environmental design of ancient and contemporary architecture, 2.-Results of a participant observation (methodology) and a comparative analysis aided by ancient and contemporary case studies, and 3.- Demonstrating how a local case study embraces the identification of research paths towards a more environmentally conscious architecture.

The set of images selected for depicting international and local case studies will back up the interpretation that architecture can operate through a respectful buffer zone between economic pressures and respect to the environment. Measurable aspects of performative spaces will be addressed using benchmarking information from energy certification systems, such as the USGBC’s LEED.

Far from a nostalgic design standpoint or a disapproval of technological development, by re-focusing on ancient vernacular architecture practice, this study calls for considering the possibilities of an adequate recoupling of buildings with food production, water use, and energy efficiency to improve their environmental performance, this is, examining the validity and agency of ancient environmental design elements for a more sustainable practice of contemporary architecture.


Saundry, P., & Ruddell, B. L. (2020). The Food-Energy-Water Nexus. Springer International Publishing AG.

United Nations, C. to C. D. (2017). The Global Land Outlook.

Salutogenesis + Design: Pursuing an Architecture of Wellness in an Age of Illness

Brian Sinclair

University of Calgary + sinclairstudio inc., Canada

Over the last century, our planet has become far more urbanized, with cities growing and evolving at unprecedented levels. Undeniably we find society struggling with the many crises that have arrived in recent decades. The complexity of the world, and the incomprehensible scale of some of its problems, calls for new means of understanding and operating. Incremental shifts & minor adjustments, in many ways, prove inadequate to respond to unprecedented challenges. Today’s ethos demands dramatic measures, including critically those factors influencing and impacting the health of civilization and the planet it calls home. Salutogenesis presents a method of acting + advancing, in many realms including architecture, whereby people are understood in their fullness. Taking into consideration a plethora of facets affecting our wellbeing, a salutogenic approach shifts the emphasis towards health promotion and away from disease management. Architecture’s roles in equations of health & wellness prove both profound and rich in potential.

Over recent years, and considering current crises, the architectural profession has been increasingly charged with generating building designs that promote individual wellness + public health. The definitions of health are many and diverse. That said, we are coming to understand with far greater clarity the tremendous correlations between health and the environment. Evidence linking the design of buildings and cities to positive health outcomes is significant. Studies in architecture, environmental psychology, social geography and other fields point to positive implications of well-considered and well-designed environments, including access to light, provision of clean air, incorporation of nature, reduced toxicity of materials, provision of social space, and many other design dimensions. Improved natural light can influence productivity. Views of nature can accelerate healing. Avoidance of harmful chemicals can reduce childhood illness. In many ways, the environmental design professions are now grasping design’s potential with respect to heightened health outcomes.

Medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky (1923-1994) postulated, in his 1979 book ‘Health, Stress and Coping’ that a person’s ability to manage and thrive in life’s journey was related, in part, to the quality of their environments. Psychologists refer to place attachment and place identity, underscoring the remarkable influence place has in our lives. Upwards of 90% of our time, in many countries, is spent indoors, making the significance of health-promoting buildings even more urgent. Likewise, urban design and city planning are poised to better cultivate health. The present research actively explores Antonovsky’s thinking, pushing hard to consider, craft and realize strategies to foster an architecture that is in synchronization with individual and community health needs and aspirations. Deploying critical analysis of the literature, case studies, studio education and logical argumentation, the current research proffers novel, bold and potent ways of linking design to wellness. Charles Jencks (2017) stressed that “Architects and doctors both are committed to creating a better future; they project plans and cures onto the horizon and seek to persuade people of their positive outcomes.” Salutogenic design presents alternative ways of seeing, knowing and acting that can place us on a path to greater health in the built environment.