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Urbanisation, Greenspace, Health and Wellbeing

Urban planning has to deal with a dilemma: on one hand, densification is seen as essential to improve environmental sustainability (e.g. more energy efficient) and on the other, disaggregation is one of the keys to holding back infection transmission.

About 60% of human diseases are zoonotic, including COVID-19, and infectious diseases thrive in urban slums where overcrowding and substandard housing is normality.

In recent years, cities in the global south have started to grow inwards, whereas northern cities follow the opposite trend, taking advantage of remote working capabilities, moving to smaller towns and settlements, with increased quality of life. This northern trend could potentially increase due to this current coronavirus outbreak, as people are being asked to ‘work from home’.

To add to the problem, density is requirement for effective urban service provisions. Lack of access to essential services as water, housing and health care are further exposed during times of natural disasters or pandemics - poor access can make lockdown orders harder to comply with in some cases.

Population density without adequate public spaces or proper affordable housing provision can lead to additional problems. One of the few places that have seen an increase in visits during lockdowns are urban greenspaces.

How can city planning move to a new paradigm of more open green spaces? How can a more holistic approach to urban planning lead to better health, water management, and climate adaptation and mitigation strategies?

These are just some of the possible topics your team might find solutions for, but the scope is much wider.

Find a team. Work on a solution. Make a change in the world and be in with a chance of winning a prize.


Carla Washbourne

Carla Washbourne

‌Carla is an interdisciplinary researcher and practitioner working at the interface of science and public policy. Her work seeks to understand how decision-making and planning in urban settings is shaped by different kinds of knowledge, centred on environment and sustainability topics. Carla is a Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, University College London (UCL) and Research Associate at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO).

Pablo Sendra

Pablo Sendra

Pablo Sendra is Lecturer in Planning and Urban Design at The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. He is also co-founder and partner of the urban design practice Lugadero and co-founder of the network CivicWise. He develops action research projects and radical teaching in collaboration with community groups and activists in London. He is co-author of Designing Disorder (with Richard Sennett, 2020), Community-Led Regeneration (with Daniel Fitzpatrick, 2020) and co-editor of Civic Practices (with Maria João Pita and Civicwise, 2017).

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