Amsterdam like other cities faces huge challenges with regards to the health of its people. Take obesity, mental health, and social exclusion as examples. Urban green offers solutions to address these issues and benefits can be reduction of mental health and physical stress, stimulating physical activity and enhanced social cohesion. Scientific studies have proven this.
Unfortunately, Amsterdam’s urban green design and planning as well as construction and maintenance rarely incorporates these benefits. Urban green is still judged based on its aesthetics, costs aspects and recreational opportunities at large. In sum, Amsterdam missed the opportunity of using urban green more effectively to build a healthier city.
The “Green Health Check” (or: De Groene Agenda) project developed an evidence-based tool for designers and urban actors to explore how different spatial scenarios of urban green impact health on streets, in neighborhoods and at business sites. This tool was developed through collaboration of scientists, health care specialists, city administrators, citizens and business partners. It helped with gaining insight in opportunities and pitfalls around urban green in practice.
The relationship between environment and aspects of human health was modeled including current knowledge on vegetation and qualities of urban green. The model was tested for usability in various cities, including Amsterdam, involving various stakeholders. During the first phase of the Green Health Check project, a prototype was developed and resulted in a map table on a computer screen to sit inside a mobile table. People can stand around it, make maps while discussing the future green in their neighborhood, develop scenarios and eventually let the model calculate the benefits of each scenario. It is thus an exemplary tool that enables citizens to participate in the process directly, to understand the impact of their preferences and to choose between options. In a later phase, a working tool for city planners in the horticultural sector was delivered. All in all, the Green Health Check project is an ideal candidate for AMS Institute’s approach using Living Labs.
- Wageningen Environmental Research
- Ministry of Economic Affairs
- Royal Flora Holland
- Soontiens Landscaping
- Permavoid Drain Solutions
- De Groene Stad
- GGD Amsterdam
- DRO Amsterdam