Research project of national interest (PRIN) 2015

The UN resolution ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ (09/2015) sets among the sustainability goals to ensure healthy life and well-being for people of all ages. The Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing axis of the Horizon 2020 program indicates among its priorities actions aimed at improving health and well-being; the challenges of the 2016-2017 work program concern the management of aging and the correction of lifestyles, seeking to prevent chronic diseases. Therefore, the announcement ‘Europe in a changing world - inclusive competition, innovative and reflective Societies - Prize for Social Innovation in Europe’ aspires to enhance the value of goods and services for the improvement of collective social phenomena. According to the EU, health and well-being are strictly integrated with the notion of sustainable cities and cross-cutting actions are encouraged to strengthen these goals by involving multiple actors.

The research moves with this mind, aiming to link urban transformation addressed to sustainability with the prevention of 21st Century chronic diseases, determined by inadequate lifestyles. Concretely, obesity, diabetes, allergies and asthma are new epidemics, generated not by viruses, but largely by inadequate environments and behaviors: pollution, sedentariness, wrong nutrition. Researches in the medical field have shown that environmental conditions foster the movement and physical activity of human beings, stimulate individual energy consumption and improve cognitive performance. It seems clear, therefore, that insisting on pedestrianism and, more generally, on soft mobility, must be one of the actions at the first place of an urban policy that wants to combine sustainability, healthy life and wellbeing of the population, with important consequences on spending health as well.

From this perspective, it becomes essential to understand how urban space can influence our spontaneous behavior, inducing an active life, where movement is part of daily travel and produces positive effects on health. So, at the center of this study there are the conformation and the qualities of the urban space, its morphological variations and the characteristics that soft mobility must have, as incentive strategies for physical activity and lifestyle change.

The research group - made up of architects, landscape planners, urban transport experts, biologists, doctors and sociologists – wants to face, with a transdisciplinary and innovative approach, the theme of the relationship between slow mobility and psychophysical wellbeing, with the ultimate goal the draft of a reference "Protocol", the outcome of the different experimentations on some Italian case studies. The work aims to evaluate the few experiences already in progress and at the same time to investigate the new potentials.