As global economies open up cautiously in the wake of the biggest global challenge since World War II, it’s clear that the pandemic has forced us all to think about the complex relationships between health and our built environments. Issues of density, system design, clean air, healthy buildings, transport links and sanitation are integral parts of public health. Conversations between health and built environment professionals are essential, especially in developing countries, where health systems, local knowledge and access to resources are often limited. But our understanding of the term “public health” is also changing. In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health by a phrase that modern authorities still use: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease or illness. infirmity ”. Some 40 years later, the term was changed to become “a resource for daily living, not the purpose of life.” Health is a positive concept that emphasizes social and personal resources, as well as physical abilities. In other words, individual health is a resource that supports an individual’s function in society at large, not an end in itself. Public health can therefore be understood as a resource that supports the function of a society in the world at large.
How can architects and architecture support this ambition? What tools do architects need to understand “health” in a more nuanced way? We carry both history and historical trauma in our bodies. How could new resilience and repair languages and tools help societies heal? If we accept a broader and richer understanding of the term “body” (“body politic”; “body-capital”; “historical bodies”; “body of culture”), what might be the implications for both architects and Healthcare ? professionals as they seek to find new ways of working together and new languages that speak on the other side disciplines, rather than within them? How might the combination of the disciplines of public health and the built environment extend and enrich our understanding of both?
The AFI associated with Ensign Global College in Kpong, Ghana, to host six keynote speakers as part of its dialogues on public health, architecture and urban planning, launched on December 14, 2021. The keynote speakers for the inaugural series are Professor Nisha Botchwey (Associate Dean, Georgia Tech and Adjunct Professor, Emory University), Prof Jennifer Newsom (Adjunct Professor, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and co-founder of Dream the Combine), Professor Shawn L Rickenbacker (Director, J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures, The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY), Professor Tolullah Oni (MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge; Research Initiative for Cities Health and Equity, University of Cape Town; and UrbanBetter), Prof Roshanak Mehdipanah (School of Public Health, University of Michigan) and Professor Andy Hong (Department of Urban and Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah and co-founder of Healthy City Futures).
Held in person in Accra, or virtually, all lectures are free and open to the public by registration, in accordance with COVID protocols. For those who cannot attend in person, our lectures are uploaded to our Vimeo and YouTube platforms at least 72 hours after the event.
“We are delighted to join with the African Futures Institute in highlighting the important link between public health and architecture. The built environment we shape deeply influences our well-being, but too often this impact is underestimated. Through dialogues on public health, architecture and urban planning, we will enjoy engaging with provocative opinion leaders who will question our views on how our environment creates both opportunities and opportunities. obstacles to optimal health. We are honored to join Professor Lokko and his team at AFI in making this series possible. —Professor Stephen C. Alder, President, Ensign Global College