Van Alen Report 20: Healthy Brains, Healthy Cities
This work is part of Van Alen Report, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.
With VAR 20, we explore the often hidden connection between mental health and urban environments.
Cognitive and behavioral science research is revealing more and more about how cities impact people physically, emotionally, and neurologically. With more people expected to live in cities than ever before, this growing body of knowledge is most welcome. However, knowledge alone is not enough to produce better, healthier cities. Just as new technologies and scientific approaches have provided fresh insight into how cities impact the mind and body, it will take new thinking among city-makers to harness that information and re-imagine the role that design can play in promoting mental health and well-being.
—Andrew Brown, Director of Programs
For Van Alen Report 20, we invited designers from around the world to share projects at the vanguard of using science-informed practices to design healthier cities. For each featured project, we asked the designers to identify the health impacts intended, and discuss how insights from neuroscience or psychology influenced the project’s design. We also consider how each project might advance both the conversation about evidence-based design, and the greater pursuit of designing healthier cities for all. These profiles have been adapted from the designers’ responses.
Founder + Chief Director, Center for Brain Health at UT-Dallas
President-Elect, Academy of Neuroscience For Architecture (ANFA)
Executive Director, International Arts and Mind Lab at the Brain Science Institute, Johns Hopkins University
Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Architecture Critic, Author of Welcome to Your World
Dr. Michael Arbib
Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Neuroscience and Psychology at USC
Dr. David Cantor, Director
Centre for Investigative Psychology at the University of Liverpool
Dr. Richard Davidson, Founder and Director
Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison
Alexi Marmot, Director
Bartlett Global Centre for Learning Environments, UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment
Dr. John Medina, Founding Director
Talaris Research Institute
Richard Wener, Director
Sustainable Urban Environments, Department of Technology, Culture & Society, Tandon School of Engineering of New York University
Hansel Bauman, Gallaudet University
Dattner ArchitectsTye Farrow, Farrow Partners
Itai Palti, Hume
Dak Kopec, University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Architecture
Man Made Music
Mikyoung Kim Design
Perkins+Will Human Experience Lab
Skidmore, Ownings & Merril (SOM)
Van Alen Report 20 Staff
David van der Leer