Public health in an era of epidemics: from the camp to the building

We didn’t need a pandemic to know that we shouldn’t conceive any more architecture projects and urban planning interventions that disregard their impact on public health. However, the current situation has exacerbated the need and brought the focus to this discipline. 

This class was designed and taught before the COVID19 crisis, and although this epidemic will have a significant presence during some of the modules, this course aims for a more ambitious target. To show that design is a critical, although often dismissed, tool for prevention, control, and response to all sorts of epidemics, and not only (to some extent, hyped) viral ones.

We can categorically say that the way we design buildings, neighborhoods, and cities has an impact on the health outcomes of the population. Urban development is at the core of new epidemics and pandemics, and the uncontrollable growth of (informal) urban settlements (including refugees) will likely increase the health gap between people of different socioeconomic status and between countries.

We will review existing studies and empirical evidence at the nexus of these fields. Through a scale approach (BUILDING-NEIGHBORHOOD-CITY-GLOBAL), we will study and evaluate different interventions, aiming to dismiss myths and reinforce those initiatives that can potentially improve population health. 

The goal of the course is to build awareness of the importance of incorporating robust public health facts and considerations in the early stages of an architectural or urban design project, but also to equip students with the skills needed to:
– Identify health issues that can potentially be tackled through design interventions
– Use robust evidence (through epidemiological studies) to propose and defend health-oriented solutions in design projects 
– Examine, assess, and design interventions taking into consideration a wide variety of aspects of public health
– Develop health-related interventions in complex public health settings (epidemics, refugees, etc.)

Course format: Interactive and dynamic dual system class. Every week you’ll have a pre-recorded offline theoretical class that includes lectures and interviews with public health experts and a 1.5 hours live class that will focus on topic discussion, debate, and Q&A with the guest speakers.

Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 08/31, and/or 09/01. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website.