Looking Back, Imagining Forward: Whither Urban Design and Mental Health?

Comprising separate but converging and diverging disciplines, the field at the intersection of urban design and mental health is a niche area with considerable potential within “Mode 3” research (after “Mode 1” and “Mode 2” as explicated by sociologistPekka Sulkunen (2008)), characterized by (co-)constructivist approaches and the rise of commu-nity-engaged research (CEnR), patient-oriented research (POR), participatory action research (PAR), and research partnership. Hessels and van Lente (2008) summarized trends in knowledge production as a move towards application, transdisciplinarity, heterogenous sites of knowledge production, greater reflexivity and social accountability, and a rethinking of traditional quality control.

These are hallmarks and aspirations of Fellows of Urban Design and Mental Health (UDMH) at the Centre as we transition into the next phase of knowledge production in this applied transdisciplinary field for community impact. At a recent series of meetings, UDMH Fellows expanded on our shared mission: “to drive interest, advocacy, and action” “to design better mental health into [our]environments” by holding “space for diverse and inter-disciplinary ways of knowing through scholarly exchange between urban design and mental health disciplines.” The act of holding space is underscored by the participatory nature of our work. [...]

Published: 2023-01-03