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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: closed (31 December 2022) | Viewed by 7949

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2200 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 (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
An Innovative Index for Evaluating Urban Vulnerability on Pandemic Using LambdaMART Algorithm
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5053; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095053 - 22 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 741
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed urban life and increased attention has been paid to the pandemic in discussions of urban vulnerability. There is a lack of methods to incorporate dynamic indicators such as urban vitality into evaluations of urban pandemic vulnerability. In [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed urban life and increased attention has been paid to the pandemic in discussions of urban vulnerability. There is a lack of methods to incorporate dynamic indicators such as urban vitality into evaluations of urban pandemic vulnerability. In this research, we use machine learning to establish an urban Pandemic Vulnerability Index (PVI) that measures the city’s vulnerability to the pandemic and takes dynamic indicators as an important aspect of this. The proposed PVI is constructed using 140 statistic variables and 10 dynamic variables, using data from 47 prefectures of Japan. Factor Analysis is used to extract factors from variables that may affect city vulnerability, and the LambdaMART algorithm is used to aggregate factors and predict vulnerability. The results show that the proposed PVI can predict the relative seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic in two weeks with a precision of more than 0.71, which is meaningful for taking controlling measures in advance and shaping the society’s response. Further analysis revealed the key factors affecting urban pandemic vulnerability, including city size, transit station vitality, and medical facilities, emphasizing precautions for public transport systems and new planning concepts such as the compact city. This research explores the application of machine learning techniques in the indicator establishment and incorporates dynamic factors into vulnerability assessments, which contribute to improvements in urban vulnerability assessments and the planning of sustainable cities while facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
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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 1483
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
Child-Friendly Environments—What, How and by Whom?
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4852; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084852 - 18 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2785
Abstract
The socio-physical qualities of built environments are, in several ways, of imperative importance for children growing up. The Child-Friendly Cities initiative by UNICEF, an implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, has made local governments strive toward child-friendliness. The [...] Read more.
The socio-physical qualities of built environments are, in several ways, of imperative importance for children growing up. The Child-Friendly Cities initiative by UNICEF, an implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, has made local governments strive toward child-friendliness. The participation of children and young people is often the focus of such projects, with a potential for a far broader scope. Besides participation processes, what important socio-physical qualities make environments child-friendly, and how can they be developed? This paper presents a structured literature review of the concept of child-friendly environments, in order to address the full socio-physical spectrum. The results focus on concrete factors that have been filtered through child-friendliness and the associated frameworks, showing an inherent dependence between the social context and the physical environment. The shaping of child-friendliness hinges on the realization of environments that are safe, fair, and with accessible and variable green and open spaces. A multi-stakeholder endeavor including, e.g., planners, designers, and managers requires clearly outlined priorities. This study lays the groundwork for further exploration of how the concept of child-friendly environments can lead to positive changes, also as part of the overall strive toward sustainable development. Full article
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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
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2193
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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