Recently the American Institute of Architects teamed with the city of New York to create its own version of a weight-loss program called the Active Design Guidelines, "a manual of strategies for creating healthier buildings, streets, and urban spaces." Today architect Jack L. Robbins pens a terrific cheatsheet for Co.Design in which he breaks down Active Design's core principles into comprehensible terms. "Instead of trying to change individual choices by using a moral appeal about what is good for us (you should walk to work because it is better for you)," Robbins writes, "it’s about changing the environment to reshape the available choices (you’ll want to walk because it is easier, cheaper, faster, or more enjoyable)." Soon, New Yorkers will literally disappear into thin air!
Exactly as it sounds—"How do you make an environment that makes it so people more likely to walk?" Whereas Walkscore assesses walkability in terms of how close things are to a given address, Robbins notes that Active Design takes quality into consideration, too. His point: just because there's a grocery store within walking distance doesn't mean it's not the dingy corner market, and it won't prevent you from driving to Whole Foods.
Stimulating the Imagination:
Read: make the world a funhouse, or just a place that doesn't involve sitting in front of the computer. "To explore the world," Robbins writes, "the real world must compete with the digital one in terms of stimulation." Well, no kidding!
Duh. But not the shady cement-block stairs that hide all matters of sin; rather, stylish, architect-designed stairs that are a core part of a building's design. "By making stairs enjoyable, and giving them precedence over elevators or escalators, more people will use them," Robbins writes.
· NYC and AIA Launch Active Design Guidelines to Help Fight Obesity [UnBeige]
· Active Design Guidelines [NYC.gov]
· A New Design Movement That Can Help Us Beat Obesity [Co.Design]
· Walkscore [official site]