Special Issue "Planning and Design Interventions for Improving the Well-Being of Vulnerable Groups"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Geography and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sina Shahab
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3WA, UK
Interests: spatial planning; policy analysis; land policy; environmental economics; transaction costs
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Marica Cassarino
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, T12 YN60, Cork, Ireland
Interests: environmental psychology; cognitive psychology; gerontology
Dr. Sara Biscaya
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT, UK
Interests: Classification Information Systems; standards and protocols for representing, exchange and manage information within the construction industry; BIM, building information modeling; collaborative work; theory and practice in studio teaching

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Creating urban environments that support the health and wellbeing of citizens has become an urgent priority considering growing urbanization and aging populations. Such environments provide all citizens with equal opportunities, regardless of their gender, age, health, socio-economic status, etc. Planning and designing urban environments with such characteristics have been attempted; however, it has proven to be a challenging endeavor. It is widely believed that an interdisciplinary approach is required to understand how urban environments can nurture and enhance wellbeing and a sense of belonging among citizens, particularly among vulnerable groups (i.e., women, children, people with disabilities, older people, and low-income households as recognized by the United Nations). It is important to identify ways of promoting a more bottom-up participatory approach to policy-making in urban planning/design where all citizens, including vulnerable groups, can provide their input on how design might help to make their lives not only healthier but also happier.

Targeting Sustainable Development Goals 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), this Special Issue of Sustainability welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions from a variety of disciplines that provide deeper insights on the following: a) how urban planning and design interventions impact the wellbeing of vulnerable groups or communities, and b) what vulnerable groups’ experiences and perceptions are of transformations in urban environments. The main aim is to bridge approaches and methodologies from different disciplines (e.g., urban planning and design, environmental psychology, and behavioral and social sciences) to build an interdisciplinary capacity to overcome the challenges of creating urban environments that support health and wellbeing of vulnerable groups. Wellbeing here is intended to have a particular focus on psychological wellbeing, particularly concerning perceived opportunities or challenges for agency (i.e., action) and/or belonging (i.e., feeling part of the community). Empirical analyses of the urban transformation projects that enhance the wellbeing of vulnerable groups are especially welcome. The geographical scope of the Special Issue is global, and contributions regarding case studies and design interventions from both developed and developing countries will be equally relevant and welcome.

Dr. Sina Shahab
Dr. Marica Cassarino
Dr. Sara Biscaya
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban environments
  • vulnerable groups
  • wellbeing
  • sense of belonging
  • happiness
  • cognitive health
  • equality
  • urban planning
  • urban design
  • urban transformation

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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Article
Neighbourhood Environment and Cognitive Vulnerability—A Survey Investigation of Variations Across the Lifespan and Urbanity Levels
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7951; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197951 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 891
Abstract
Background: Understanding the impact of local communities on wellbeing is a paramount Sustainable Development Goal. In order to inform people-centred planning interventions, it is important to understand what demographic groups need supportive communities the most and where. This study explored associations between perceived [...] Read more.
Background: Understanding the impact of local communities on wellbeing is a paramount Sustainable Development Goal. In order to inform people-centred planning interventions, it is important to understand what demographic groups need supportive communities the most and where. This study explored associations between perceived neighbourhood characteristics and cognitive vulnerability, and the moderating role of age and urbanity of the place of residence. Methods: A convenience sample of 224 Irish adults completed a survey assessing cognitive vulnerability and perceptions of neighbourhood qualities, together with sociodemographic and residential information. Correlational analyses explored bivariate associations as well as moderating effects. A subsample (n = 142) provided qualitative accounts of their preferences of neighbourhood characteristics. Results: Regression analyses showed that controlling for sociodemographic factors, higher self-reported neighbourhood pleasantness was associated with lower cognitive vulnerability, particularly in older adults who lived in the most rural and urban areas (p = 0.006). Qualitative accounts suggested urban–rural variations in perceived accessibility and perceptual stressors, and age-related variations in social preferences. Conclusions: Our findings indicate a complex association between neighbourhood characteristics and cognitive wellbeing, highlighting the potential benefits of neighbourhood pleasantness for cognition particularly for older people in very rural or very urbanised places. Implications for research and environmental interventions are discussed. Full article
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Review

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Review
Envisioning Happy Places for All: A Systematic Review of the Impact of Transformations in the Urban Environment on the Wellbeing of Vulnerable Groups
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 8086; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13148086 - 20 Jul 2021
Viewed by 781
Abstract
Urban planning and design can impact mental health, but it is unclear how ever-growing and changing cities can sustain the psychological wellbeing of vulnerable groups, who are among the most mentally sensitive to spatial inequalities. This systematic review synthesised quantitative and qualitative studies [...] Read more.
Urban planning and design can impact mental health, but it is unclear how ever-growing and changing cities can sustain the psychological wellbeing of vulnerable groups, who are among the most mentally sensitive to spatial inequalities. This systematic review synthesised quantitative and qualitative studies on urban design interventions and their impact on wellbeing in vulnerable groups. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we searched five online databases from inception to May 2020. A total of 10 papers were included. We found mixed evidence of benefits for wellbeing linked to urban regeneration projects or focused interventions (green spaces, transport, security). Interventions that were centred around participation, sustainable living, and quality of design (e.g., perceived sense of safety) were associated with increased residential satisfaction and wellbeing, particularly among low-income communities and women. Risk of bias was low to medium, but there was high methodological heterogeneity; studies were mainly from Western countries, and none of the included studies investigated the experiences of people with disabilities, migrants, or racial minorities. This review highlights the importance of inclusive and sustainable design interventions to create happy places for all strata of society, although further investigation is warranted. Full article
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