The preamble to the constitutional text of the World Health Organization (WHO) states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
The right to health includes health measures but also social measures, which inextricably links it to the right to decent and adequate housing, as well as the right to enjoy a healthy, safe and sustainable urban environment for all. social and environmental levels. 80% of the social determinants that affect health are outside the health system. They depend on other factors, such as the characteristics of our homes and the way our towns and cities are planned and configured.
On the occasion of World Architecture Day, which is celebrated on October 3, architects want to highlight the value of architectural design and urban planning to ensure people’s well-being and improve their individual and collective quality of life, transforming social realities and reducing inequality. To paraphrase the International Union of Architects (UIA) statement, “good architecture protects, develops and restores the environment, human and animal health against disease, and strengthens the relationship between the built environment and the natural environment”.
If before the Covid19 pandemic we already spent 80% of our time in closed spaces, the confinement caused by the coronavirus has increased it and revealed to all of us the importance of the places we inhabit for our physical and mental health. The insulation of the interior, the accessibility, the dimensions of the home, the windows, the presence or absence of terraces, the noise, the flexibility and the functionality of the spaces… All this affects the health of the home and subsequently the health of people, but also our immediate environment. The design of streets and boulevards, their accessibility and also their urban furnishings, the presence or not of green areas and sports and cultural facilities, as well as sustainable urban mobility are aspects related to the structure of our urban environment, which also determines in some cases , determine our health.
Therefore, on this upcoming World Architecture Day, we highlight the need to rehabilitate homes and buildings and regenerate neighborhoods, at the expense of European funds The next generation It is undertaken from a comprehensive and broad perspective so that aid contributes to fostering the profound transformation that our building stock requires and benefits the greatest number of people.
The undeniable effects of climate change and the energy crisis caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine in Europe make it essential to reduce the polluting emissions generated by our building stock, responsible for 36% of greenhouse gases, and energy dependence. But, along with reducing the demand and consumption of energy, we must not forget improving the accessibility of our buildings and our neighborhoods with interventions that lead to the well-being and health of people and that preserve the future of the planet and the uniqueness of our cities and buildings, because their particularities form an integral part of our collective identity. European funds have concentrated the resources of an entire generation, and it is necessary to act ambitiously, betting on the renewal of our neighborhoods and comprehensive renovations that will allow us to leave buildings ready for at least two generations.
In this sense, it is the responsibility of all agents involved in the design, planning and management of our cities and territories to integrate the health factor and to do so in a transversal way that rebalances the relationship between the urban and rural worlds and preserves the biodiversity of the planet. The way we plan and build our urban environment determines our quality of life. This affects not only the quality of our living spaces. It affects forms of mobility and therefore the air we breathe, the water we drink and access to food, education, health services, employment and culture.
The challenges we face as a society are vast, complex and require the collective efforts of professionals, public administration and private initiative to plan and build that better future we all aspire to and for which we architects want to contribute, actively, with all our technical and humanistic knowledge to move towards a healthier, fairer and more sustainable society without giving up beauty as prescribed by the Davos Declaration, the New European Bauhaus and the Architecture Quality Act.
Capital architecture ensures the well-being of people and provides the emotion that gives meaning to existence.