Designing for Health in the Suburbs

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Virginia Tech

This thesis is a proposal on how architects and designers can begin to rethink our role in providing for the health, safety and welfare of the general population- with an emphasis on health- specifically in existing suburbias. Changes can be made to take existing unhealthy environments to transform them into healthy, inclusive places that different types of people can genuinely enjoy living in.

The differences in what we know now vs. what was known back when most subrubs were originally planned are drastic. Our knowledge and understanding of the consequences of certain design decisions are understood, so why haven't American suburbs adapted to address the health issues we have created for ourselves? My thesis is an attempt to answer the question of how suburbs can be changed (/evolved) to encourage socially, environmentally, personally healthy environments. As a future architect who is planning to dedicate my career to protecting the health, safety and welfare of the general public, I feel inclined to address the issue of rampant unhealthy lifestyles in the suburbs. Design movements such as Congress for New Urbanism and Smart Growth have laid the ground work for proposals found in this thesis. The largest criticisms of those movements are that they an be seen as forceful attempts to control peoples' lifestyles. My intention is not to trick or force people to live a certain way through design. My intention is to present options for healthier lifestyles for current suburbanites to benefit from. I aim to be very sensitive to the cultural differences of those who live in certain areas and to respect and preserve the successes of existing suburbs.

Design, Health, Suburbs