Health in the Built Environment

Building Environments for better health
Can you visualize buildings that bring a smile to your face? That help you focus? That help you perform better, rest well and get you focused and inspired?

Can you visualize cities and urban areas that foster a healthy lifestyle and active mobility? That change your routine behavior and stimulate you to be physically and cognitively active and socially engaged?

If so, you know how important the built environment is for human well-being. But even more than that, the built environment is also critically important for human health.

How would you visualize a building that helps you sleep better? A building that helps you prepare fresh-cooked meals and gives you personalized health advice? Or a city that invites and motivates its citizens to move more and live healthier and more connected lives?

Currently, over half of the world’s population lives in cities. And from 2050 onwards, 70% of people living in cities will be over 60. Decisions architects and urban planners make today can help improve the health, vitality and well-being of billions. Well-planned, insightful scientific research is critical to help determine the best solutions.

Call for proposals – EuroTech COFUND is now accepting applications
Do you have a PhD and are you looking to do a postdoc in the Netherlands? Do you have an excellent track record, strong opinions and innovative ideas about changing the built environment to better suit human needs and health? The EuroTech COFUND program offers funding for 80 postdocs, full-time salaries positions of 24 months each.

TU/e is looking to host international postdocs in the Health in the Built Environment initiative. We are interested in research questions around healing environments and open to other topics as well.  

How to submit a proposal
Do you have an interesting research idea that fits within the TU/e Health in the Built Environment initiative? Please contact Maaike Riemersma, who will pass your email on to the researcher that is the best match. For more information about the EuroTech COFUND program, see this TU/e page [https://www.tue.nl/en/research/research-support-network/eurotech-cofund-programme/] and the EuroTech website [http://eurotech-universities.eu/the-eurotech-postdoc-programme/]

The deadline for application is 28 February 2019, 5:00 MET.

Health in the Built Environment
At TU/e’s Health in the Built Environment, we research activities done in the built environment (both indoors and outdoors) with the purpose to sustain and facilitate public health and well-being while supporting individual citizens in their ambition to have a high quality of life. Health in the Built Environment is an initiative of the TU/e Built Environment department.

The aim of the Health in the Built Environment community is to develop innovative, multidisciplinary projects to submit for funding and to exchange information. We promote our expertise to support policymakers and citizens in creating healthier surroundings that promote an active lifestyle and enhance well-being.

Team
The Built Environment Team for Health initiative consists of the following researchers from the TU/e Department of the Built Environment

Research focus
Projects within the Health in the Built Environment initiative focus on:

  • Identifying factors that facilitate or hinder healthy behavior in indoor and outdoor environments
  • Examining the impact of climate on indoor environment and health
  • Finding solutions that
    • Support healthy living in urban areas (outdoor)
    • Maintain or increase mobility and walkability of aging adults (indoor and outdoor)
    • Create healthy environments (indoor)

Within the Healthy Daily Living focus area of TU/e, they fall under

  • Interactive Technologies and the Health Continuum or
  • Healthy Cities and Smart Societies

Interactive Technologies and the Health Continuum
Research within Interactive Technologies and the Health Continuum addresses technologies that support people in staying healthy and, if ill, coping with the disease and self-managing their life.

It incorporates the health continuum: from home to hospital, from healthy living and prevention to diagnosis, and from treatment to home care. This research area covers two perspectives. That of the individual, their family, caretakers and other related stakeholders. And that of a person’s environment in the broadest sense of the word.

Indoor, outdoor and community
Our research focuses on the human-technology ecosystem with an emphasis on indoor and outdoor environments, as well as the social dynamics and processes that smooth the health continuum and strengthen empowerment and quality of life. Research projects identify facilitators and hindrances in a person’s ecosystem and examine the impact of changes on indoor environments, social structures, collaboration and inclusion, and health.

Current research is aimed at finding ways to:
• Improve the hospital environment and information systems
• Smooth the transition between hospital and home
• Enhance social contacts and cohesion in neighborhoods
• Support aging-in-place and prevent loneliness for the aging population
• Create healthy indoor and working environments
• Create dementia-friendly environments

Healthy Cities and Smart Societies 
Research within Healthy Cities and Smart Societies focuses on improving health through understanding the impact of the living environment – both physical and digital – on people’s lifestyles. The Healthy Cities and Smart Societies research network combines research from the fields of urban planning, digital technologies and behavioral sciences to develop new understanding and innovative strategies on how to create the right conditions for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle, physically, mentally and socially.

Focus on integral approaches
To change people’s routine behavior, it is necessary to develop integral approaches that focus on systemic changes in the contextual aspects defining these routines. Such integral approaches should combine physical, digital and social interventions. The aim is to create everyday urban living environments that stimulate people to be physically active, cognitively stimulated and socially engaged. To create healthy cities through a combination of urban planning, gamification and persuasive technologies and supported by social awareness programs.

Collaborations and living labs
For academics, professionals and policy makers, the program delivers data on healthy and unhealthy behavior related to the characteristics of the urban environment, as well as integrated intervention strategies aiming to change behavior. Smart City Technologies enables to not only monitor and nudge this behavior but also to evaluate the results of these combined intervention strategies.

By creating living labs, this program involves actors from the quadruple helix in research and development of interventions. The research network consists of faculty members from TU/e (Industrial Design, the Data Science Center Eindhoven and IE&IS) and other universities and institutes. These include Utrecht University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Platform Gezond Ontwerp. Collaborations are ongoing with almost all knowledge institutes involved in public health and healthy cities, RIVM, TNO and Kenniscentrum Sport. Moreover, we collaborate closely with the Smart Cities program of the TU/e and the Urban Development Institute, the Frauenhofer Institute and Brainport region. Please feel free to contact us for information or collaborations.

Some projects of Health in the Built Environment
Genneper Parken: Sports and vitality district. An integral approach to enhance an active lifestyle by designing sports and vitality into the daily living environment through landscaping, probes and smart city technologies.

Bike2School: Studying the factors influencing cycling behavior of teenagers.

Creating Healthy Environments – Hospitals: The goal is to gain more insight into the relation between indoor environmental parameters and the wellbeing of patients and performance of staff in a hospital environment.

Creating Healthy Environments – Offices: The general approach is to identify solutions for the built environment that form a balanced consideration of energy and health-related aspects for the building occupants in open office environments.

GOAL: Gamification for Overweight prevention and Active Lifestyle.

Smart Cycling Futures: How cycling innovation and urban planning strategies contribute to the stimulation of cycling.

Smart Technology, Empowering Citizens (STEC): Understanding how technologies and practices can empower citizens and organize them around collective societal issues.

SOULMATE: Secure Old people’s Ultimate Lifestyle Moblility by offering Augmented reality Training Experience.

Transformative Practices Program for Social Resilience: Empowering citizens and enhancing their resilience through socio-technical systems.

Overview