First we shape our buildings, then they shape us, runs the well-worn aphorism. As an increasingly large body of evidence demonstrates, though, urban environments do have immense power to transform us – mentally, physically and socially, for the better and for the worse.
Many of the most sophisticated hospitals in Australia now feature therapeutic landscapes, included for the proven benefits green spaces bring to patient treatment and recovery. Conversely, health scientists have found direct connections between poor urban amenity and planning, and poor health, with evidence growing that many of our cities qualify as everything from ‘obesogenic’ – as encouraging unhealthy levels of weight gain – to ‘depressogenic’ – as leading to poor mental health.
As Australia’s population ages, and more and more of its youngest people find themselves suffering from health issues once the unhappy preserve of the middle aged and elderly, the way we design and plan our cities, parks and places will have profound effects on our mental and physical well-being.
In this symposium hosted in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria, Foreground brings together design and health experts from around the world to explore the role of landscape architecture, urban design and planning in making healthful urban environments.
Lily Jencks is the principal of Lily Jencks Studio, an award-winning design firm based in the United Kingdom that integrates architecture, landscape and art to improve the environment of our cities and surroundings. Jencks is the daughter of the late Charles Jencks and Maggie Keswick Jencks, founders of the Maggies Centres, a charity that has become influential for its provision of uplifting environments for cancer care, designed by some of the world’s most renowned architects. Lily is a designer of the landscape and gardens of several of the Maggies Centres and remains deeply involved with the charity.
Dr Paul Torzillo
Dr Paul Torzillo is one of the founding directors of Healthabitat, a not-for-profit company aiming to improve the health of people living in poverty throughout the world, primarily through facilitating improvements to housing and living environments. Healthabitat started in the mid-1980s working for Australian Indigenous people in Central Australia before spreading nationally, then internationally.
Paul is the Medical Director of the Nganampa Health Council in the north west corner of South Australia, Head of Respiratory Medicine and a senior Intensive Care physician at the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Sydney, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney and Clinical Director of critical care services for the Sydney Local Area Health District.
Claire Martin is Associate Director of OCULUS, where she is responsible for the direction, management and delivery of complex public realm and infrastructure projects, including OCULUS’ contribution to Bendigo Hospital with Bates Smart and Silver Thomas Hanley, the largest hospital redevelopment in Victoria’s history.
Claire is a Board Director of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, a contributing editor of Landscape Architecture Australia, and a member of the Office of the Victorian Government Architect’s Victorian Design Review Panel and RMIT University’s Landscape Architecture Industry Advisory Committee.
Professor Billie Giles-Corti
Professor Billie Giles-Corti is a Distinguished Professor at RMIT University and directs the Healthy Liveable Cities Research Group at RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research. For over two decades, Billie and a multi-disciplinary research team have been studying the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing.
Billie is Director of RMIT’s Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow. She currently leads a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities, established in 2014.