Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sick cities: why urban living can be bad for your mental health

Sick cities: why urban living can be bad for your mental health
This article does not discuss if some kinds of urban envronments  - and architecture -  are less stressful than others.

Are Paris or Rome any better than Shanghai and Cairo?

Are all cities anti.-biophilic?

Is living in countryside or a village the only solution?

Of course you are right!  Furthermore, suburbs and rural areas, despite their (sometimes) biophilic properties, can also have high rates of disease, e.g. from obesity, car-dependent lifestyles, stress of driving and traffic, poor access to medical care, poor access to healthy food (ironic but true in many rural areas) etc.

The people who are moving to cities are following an age-old dynamic of increasing opportunity for human development -- the kind of dynamic that took penniless immigrants from Russia and Italy and Ireland into New York, say, and converted many of them into middle-class business owners and professionals. (As they used to say, "city air makes you free.") But those cities had qualities we are lacking today -- not only great biophilic qualities, but also "rungs on the ladder" to allow people to self-organize their own activities.  Today, for all the sanitation (and sanitization), those rungs are increasingly gone, and people are trapped in sink estates with nowhere to go.  No wonder they sometimes erupt in violence, like the Banlieues et al...

But we seem stuck in a primitive conversation about these things, and only bumper-sticker messages get through... "sick cities..."  etc.

Baggensgatan Street at Gamla Stan in Stockholm on 11th October 2015.


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