Yogesh Mehra

USHERING IN AN ERA OF HEALTHY CITIES

The concept of healthy cities has been catching on across the globe, says our contributor, who is the co-founder and CEO, Yolo Homes, and who has travelled around the globe, studying contemporary residential living formats.

Yogesh Mehra

The concept of healthy cities has been catching on across the globe. Various European nations as well as different cities in the US are engaged in building health-centric cities, with a healthy life for the people as a USP. Interestingly, efforts to implement this new and progressive residential concept are also underway in India.

Among the cities in the country which hold the potential for success on this front, Pune stands out on various counts. First and foremost, the ‘healthy city’ concept can be successfully superimposed on the integrated township model.

There is ample scope for leading township developers to adopt the healthy cities concept and providing the benefits to their customers. However, for the health city concept to be delivered to its fullest scope, an entirely new city – or city-within-a-city – needs to be created.

The World City concept, which is the ultimate avatar of the integrated townships model amplified to the nth degree, is eminently suited for the creation of a health city with all associated benefits. And it is now happening in cities like Pune.

What is the health city concept?

The term healthy city is being used in context with large urban areas which have specifically adopted parameters that promote advanced public health into their design fabric to directly benefit their residents. While this concept can be implemented to a marginal extent in smaller areas, it takes considerable scale to deliver such design elements to sufficient saturation.

Health-related features and benefits must be worked in at a core level, and not be merely superficial. Environmental factors as well as the infrastructure of the city play pivotal roles in determining if the city is healthy or not. There are many things that need to be properly implemented in a health-focused city.

Districts are the best places to begin a healthy city initiative. In such a setting, it is possible to create a health-centric environment in a more integrated fashion. Also, districts are easier to control when compared to large cities.

The district approach for creating health-centric urban areas has worked best globally, and this is the model we need to follow in India as well.

General health reports say that a majority of people nowadays spend their time indoors – either for work, at home or for indoor recreation. Outdoor and physical activities have gone down drastically in modern day living. This kind of lifestyle is seriously hampering the quality of life of people. Efforts must be made to ensure that people can go out for fresh air, and this requires green open spaces in a pollution-free environment. With the health city concept, it is possible to obtain all these.

Whenever we talk of the urban environment prevalent in India, there is no way to prevent images of congestion, pollution, infrastructure-strangling skyscrapers and vast areas of concrete development with little or no greenery.

Bereft of greenery

In fact, most of our central city areas are bereft of greenery or any other natural elements. In order to create a healthy city, the urban environment needs to be changed to include parks and other green areas so that people can have a connection with nature.

Children need to be able to play in parks, not in alleyways or on the roads, and adults need access to parks and gardens for their overall wellbeing.

In a health city, schools can put more emphasis on outdoor activities because the city provides the required green open areas. Likewise, adults are able to practice health-related activities like jogging and yoga outdoors instead of indoors. A health city includes walking trails with spatial extensions instead of only linear pathways.