Public space as generator of social well-being

Public space as generator of social well-being
Ana Gallego
Would it be possible to rethink architectural design aspects so public spaces can improve both the physical and mental health of all citizens?

Ana Gallego
Seville, Spain
Field of work
Architecture, Urban planning, Research
Project category
Renovation wave
Project submitted

Currently working in the international architecture studio Miralles Tagliabue EMBT in Barcelona since 2020. She is the lead coordinator of the Urban LAB of Mental Health which participates in the public policies of the EU, making an investigation that joins mental health, urban design and technology policies in the EU. She has taken part in MODELFest with ‘Aigua Sana’ (2022) and at BCN Architecture Week with ‘Square it' (2021), both exhibitions related to the improvement of the urban space.

Would you like to teleport or not? Most pedestrians and cyclist have similar answers: NO, thanks! (1)

How could it be possible that a huge group of people who only have in common owning a bike, are so alike?

Maybe the answer is not in the object but in the landscape, in the way we are connected with our scenary. Maybe, the answer is further on and inside us: in the reactions we have to our context and the way in which we interact.

And of course, in the relationship between landscape, city and our own health, both physical and mental.

There has been a change of paradigm and the interest in the qualities of public space has grown, as this is an influential factor in the wellbeing of citizens.
Big cities need more and more space, their population is growing and there is increasingly less free space.

Would it be possible to rethink design aspects so that these public spaces can improve the quality of life for all citizens?

The objective of this study is to relate good design of public spaces to mental and physical health and to find those elements that can be implemented through architectural design.

A qualitative and quantitative methodology was used, with which an intensive study of publications and bibliography related to the design of public space from architecture, neuroscience and salutogenesis were carried out, to later create a guide to design and apply these good measures to a specific case study; a small-scale public space, because it is the most common in the usual city.

A series of surveys were proposed, applying the studies previously consulted in the
case study. After analyzing the results of the surveys, the intervention were made to improve it from a neuroscientific, salutogenic and architectural point of view.

(1) (P.Humagain, P. A. Singleton, Would you rather teleport or spend some time commuting? 2020, ISSN 1369-8478)