Student Work - 2011

This studio makes a connection between two research topics; environmental determinants of health (Fig. 1) and the phenomenon referred to as the Healthy Immigrant Effect. The studio will use urban design strategies to analyze urban immigrant communities and develop new ways of adapting these communities to reflect the cultural preferences and practices of various immigrant groups. The goal of this research effort is to identify ways that communities can be designed to promote healthy, active lifestyles and improve public health outcomes. Walkability, proximity to parks and green spaces, access to public transportation and perception of safety are all characteristics of the built environment that have been linked to increased physical activity and health (McCann, Ewing, 2003)(Loukaitou-Sideris, 2006). The Healthy Immigrant Effect is a generally accepted phenomenon where recent immigrants are found to be healthier than native-born counterparts, but over time, this health advantage dissipates (Oxman-Martinez et al., 2000)(Gushulak, 2007). For example, immigrant women are about 10 percentage points less likely to be overweight than natives at entry, and they close 90% of the gap within 10 years of U.S. residence (Antecol, 2006). Although a growing body of research is building the link between health outcomes and the built environment, generalized urban design strategies for improving resident health may not recognize culturally specific needs and desires of immigrant communities. In this research studio, students will be involved in the process of creating new knowledge, which will follow a defined research methodology, and work towards the goal of better understanding to what extent the needs of the focus communities are unmet. Design proposals will then be developed to address these environmental deficiencies, ultimately fostering healthy, active lifestyles.