What it takes to make a healthy, happy city in a tropical climate

Living in a healthy, happy city is key to the way we feel about our place in the world, our zest for life, and our general well-being.

That’s why a cohort of Griffith University and James Cook University academics are highlighting what makes for a healthy, happy city and how a sub-tropical city like the Gold Coast measures up with a range of presentations at the two-day Healthy Happy Cities in a Tropical Environment Workshop, February 13 and 14.

The workshop is the brainchild of Associate ProfessorKarineDupre, from Griffith Architecture & Design, and is sponsored by the Australian-French Association and Research Innovation, Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT) and Griffith Sciences.

Assoc Prof Karine Dupre is running the workshop to help inform better planning decisions for cities like the Gold Coast.

Assoc Prof Dupre said the program, which is also open to the public via registration at the HHCTE Workshop website, will offer a platform for participants in design, tourism and health to produce a toolbox for better integrated urban design in tropical environments and healthier, happier experiences for city-dwellers.

“The HHCTE Workshop is a unique initiative based on problem-solving and gamification approaches, which is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts,” Prof Dupre said.

“The presentations will help the participants to understand the breath of design, while some playful exercises and intensive brainstorming will contribute to generate the structure of the toolbox.

“It will give key stakeholders in design, tourism and health a way to integrate better planning in tropical environments to offer healthy, happy experiences in our cities.”

The workshop will cover a range of topics around what makes for a healthy, happy city through presentations including BoltForGold by Alex Bowden, who created an app in which the user anywhere, anytime can compete with others against Usain Bolt’s world record sprint time.

According to Assoc Prof Dupre, a healthy, happy city is one that offers fun and/or cultural activities, is visually appealing, is amenable, and provides good urban design and services.

She said while the Gold Coast performedpretty wellas a healthy, happy city by offering plenty to see and do for tourists and locals, tourists got the lion’s share of these.

“Locals can of course benefit from these attractions, but only to a certain extent – for example, we as residents are likely to only go to a theme park once or with our families, as opposed to going again and again for our own enjoyment,” she said.

“Sothere is room to improve and grow in this gap.

“There is often too much of a top-down approach when it comes to city planning, so offering a toolbox for city dwellers to provide input will help reverse that role.”

Joshua Lyons, who is currently completing hisMasters of Architectureat Griffith, will present ‘Healthy, happy places on the Gold Coast’ in which he investigates human-designed precincts and places that encourage people to be out and active — one such place being the Hinze Dam Visitor Centre.

“It’s a good example because it’s a piece of infrastructure; you could think of it alongside electricity or sewerage – it’s a service we need in ourlivesbut we don’t think about it as a place to visit,” Lyons said.

“To see so much money invested in making a facility that makes people linger is a celebration of civic infrastructure, which is something not normally seen these days; when we do see it on the Gold Coast it’s often for new building or hotel in Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach that becomes a new icon and attracts people there.

“Popular infrastructure like the SydneyHarbourBridge is a well-known one, but things like train stations or brickworks, powerhouses – these lesser regarded infrastructures that were often celebrated in the past as engineering feats are now places that draw people to enjoy them as spaces in their own rights.”

As part of a research grant with the French School of Architecture La Reunion (ENSAMR), the outcomes of the workshop, which will also be presented usingAuslan, will feed a new open and free access digital platform (the HHCTE blog) to help decision-makers on how to design under the tropics.

There are also plans to run Prof Dupre’s HHCTE Workshop again in October 2019 in La Reunion, a French island off Madagascar.