Mar 27, 2023

Dangerous Density: Addressing the impact of urban density on children’s health and well-being


In the next 28 years our urban population will grow from 4.4 billion to 6.4 billion. Compact-city designs are currently embraced as a spatial solution to host this exponentially growing urban society, but there are inadequate knowledge of how different densities impact public health, especially children’s health and well-being (who constitute 27% of the global population). This research would be the first comprehensive, transdisciplinary and multi-national approach to understand ‘dangerous density’ impacts across different countries and cultures.

This project will create a density-typology to unpack the impact of urban density on children’s health and well-being. A morphological approach and Global Human Settlement data will be used to create a series of density profiles with physical attributes and social attributes. A case study investigation in Belo Horizonte (Brazil) will enable a deeper understanding of how children use, perceive, and experience the specific density. Accordingly, collaborative methodologies will be used to identify the contextual and cultural nuances to be included in the density-typology, which will ultimately inform the development of an international density-toolkit.

WUN support will enable multi-national, trans-disciplinary collaboration and a unique opportunity to consider the impacts of density from different geographic and cultural perspectives, which will lead to a distinctive research output (density-typology and subsequent density toolkit). This pilot study will have the potential to be upscaled to more global cities and urban contexts. It will provide a strong track record to support substantial funding applications, seeking to further unpack ‘dangerous densities’ in an international context. The participating WUN member universities and partners bring together an extensive range of expertise, capabilities and competencies in a first of its kind study that will attract broad public interest, given the majority of the global population is, or will soon be, impacted by density. Global stakeholders (ISOCARP, UNICEF and UN-Habitat) and all levels of (global) governments dealing with urbanisation and the planning of healthy environments, will value this research.