The aim of the Transport, Health and Urban Design Research Hub (THUD) is to explore the effects of urban form and transport on the health of the residents of cities.
For policy makers, urban designers/planners, and transport planners who shape our rapidly expanding cities, minimising exposure to health risks while maintaining or enhancing the mobility and accessibility of city residents needs to be a priority. The structure of a city and especially the local neighbourhood greatly influence a resident’s experiences and opportunities, which in turn impacts their health and wellbeing, and ultimately the social, economic and environmental impact of the city.
During its early stages, the Hub will focus on two research themes:
New Urban Access and Mobility
New urban access and mobility encompasses elements associated with innovation in the planning and delivery of public transport, innovations associated with safe, inclusive and sustainable transport as well as exploring the institutional and governance requirements to achieve a reformed agenda at the local, state and federal-levels. This will identify approaches (including policy, planning and governance) that will lead to healthier and more sustainable urban environments. Specifically, the theme’s objectives include:
- innovation in planning and delivery of public transport both at the local and cross-city levels
- accessibility and land-uses that are conducive to health and wellbeing
- innovation in safe and sustainable transport
- identifying and seeking solutions to institutional and political barriers to healthy and sustainable urban mobility in Australian cities
Urban Design, Walkability and Health
Public health challenges such as premature deaths due to excess weight and obesity have been shown to be associated with city-design and levels of physical activity of its residents. Promoting an active community with high levels of wellbeing requires radically different strategic approaches to urban transformation, necessitating innovative urban design; urban design that brings together modelling and an understanding of network connectivity, urban microclimate and comfort, UV exposure and access to daylight, air quality, and a sense of place and social infrastructure alongside transport and density distribution. While the general relationship of walking to public health is well established, the specific ways in which walkability is geared to urban morphology are less understood. This theme will place a specific focus on:
- developing metrics, modelling and mapping of urban design dimensions of walkability, including density, functional mix, access and microclimate
- exploring the opportunities and barriers to transit-oriented urban designs, including property markers and urban design frameworks
- identifying and developing design innovation for walking, cycling and transit oriented urban design.
A Research Advisory Group chaired by Prof Billie Giles-Corti has been established and comprises membership from industry, government, the Faculty of Engineering along with the chair and research theme leaders of the Hub. The Research Advisory Committee meets annually to discuss outcomes from the research and to review synopses of proposed research from the Hub investigators. Importantly, the Committee ensures all research proposals align with the outlined goals of the Hub.
Hub meeting and organisation
The Research Hub involves a significant collaboration and commitment of effort from research leaders, mid-career and early-career academics from the Faculty. The figure below outlines the management structure which oversees the Hub.
The Management Committee meets on a quarterly basis and the has the overall responsibility for:
- Managing the progress of identified projects under the research objectives;
- Preparation of annual reports; and
- Report against project milestones.