Dr Paula Hooper &
Dr Sarah Foster

The HIGH LIFE: Evaluating the impact of apartment design policy on health.

15 November , 2018
University of Wollongong

Co-Speaker A/Prof Thomas Astell-Burt is a Founding Co-Director of the PowerLab and an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow. Thomas will outline recently published findings by the PowerLab in the area of environment and population health in Australia and overseas.

Dr Sarah Foster is a VC Research Fellow at The Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University. Her research program focuses on furthering our understanding of the impact of the urban environment on a range of social and health outcomes – including safety from crime, physical activity, mental health and sense of community. She is currently funded by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to conduct a program of work on the policy and practice of designing healthy equitable higher density communities.

Dr Paula Hooper is Healthway Research Fellow Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC) within the School of Design at the University of Western Australia. Her multidisciplinary research work has studied the impact of the built environment and urban design on health and wellbeing and has had a strong focus on policy-relevance and research-translation, for which she has won numerous planning industry-based awards. Her recently awarded Healthway Fellowship will see her developing, implementing and evaluating an evidence-based health impact planning support system to assist in the design and creation of healthy liveable communities.

Seminar abstract: Apartment construction surpassed traditional detached housing in Australia for the first time in 2016. This change is supported by health promotion agencies, as increases in residential density underpin the destinations that encourage active living. However, the rapid construction of apartments has ignited concern about apartment design quality. In response, the numerous state governments have proposed or developed new apartment design policies, largely replicating SEPP65 in NSW, with minimum standards to create more functional and healthier dwellings. Despite numerous studies examining aspects of apartment design or higher density living in relation to a range of health and wellbeing outcomes, to date the health evidence lacks the specificity required to adequately inform design policy. The HIGH LIFE study addresses this gap by creating policy-specific measures of apartment design and assessing their association with health and wellbeing. This seminar presents an overview of The HIGH LIFE Study methodology, how we learnt from and built on the successes of the earlier RESIDE Study (i.e., an evaluation of the impact of a suburban planning policy on health) and preliminary results from our pilot study.