Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Healthcare / Innovation

European Healthcare Design 2019

Joining the dots on design for health – from homes to hospitals, bodies to minds, things to data

By Geoff Mulgan 16 Aug 2019 0

In this keynote, Geoff shares some of Nesta’s work on influencing the social and behavioural aspects of health and some past work on mapping value in the built environment, so that planning decisions can better support physical and mental health.

Download the slides for this video presentation


Much is known about the causes of premature death. Health services contribute a significant amount but no more – and probably less – than social, behavioural and environmental factors. Yet the focus of policy and spending is almost always primarily on service provision rather than the shaping and design of these other factors.

Hospitals continue to absorb a huge proportion of health budgets and have prompted some very useful thinking about how their designs can be more health-enhancing. Yet homes and workplaces, where people spend far more time, are often ill-suited to promoting long-term health.

We’re all familiar with promoting walking, cycling, healthy diets and access to nature. But Geoff also considers the potential for what he calls ‘MEEs’ – mind-enhancing environments that simultaneously reduce feelings of fear and threat while they also stimulate and challenge in ways that contribute to thriving.

Finally, he talks about the emerging field of ‘intelligence design’ – combining data, machine and human intelligence to improve such things as the quality of air in cities. He argues that this is a vital complement to the more familiar fields of physical design.

Organisations involved