Connecting and strengthening communities in places for health and well-being

Susan Thompson*, Jennifer Kent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


A healthy built environment is one which connects citizens together to create a sense of community. These are influential determinants of good mental and physical health. This paper presents an overview of key research on how the built environment supports the development of community as part of creating and sustaining places for health and well-being. Formal public places such as town squares, plazas, parks and gardens cultivate community in numerous ways. Informal public places such as those in between buildings, on the street, at the train station and bus stop are also important for social encounters and interaction. Careful design of open space, neighbourhood streets and buildings can encourage human interaction as part of community creation. Evidence is presented here as a 'Places Framework' to illuminate the ways in which place strengthens community. The paper concludes by discussing and critically evaluating policy implications for urban planners and designers. Major gaps in the research are identified and suggestions made for future investigative work to strengthen the evidence for building healthy communities through built environment interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-271
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Planner
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • community building
  • healthy planning
  • neighbourhood design
  • open space
  • places framework
  • safety


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