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Speaking at Day 2 

Cities and Health - Role of research and design in creating sustainable and healthy cities

Kevin Lau
Research Assistant Professor, Institute of Future Cities, CUHK

Dr Kevin Ka-Lun Lau is Research Assistant Professor at Institute of Future Cities, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His primary research interest is on the relationship between the built environment and urban climate, with a particular focus on human thermal comfort in outdoor environment. His research ranges from numerical modelling of urban microclimate to field studies of outdoor thermal comfort, with over 50 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He is a member of the WMO Expert Network of the Commission for Observation, Infrastructure and Information Systems and the Commission for Weather, Climate, Water and Related Environmental Services and Applications.

 

Dr Lau is also affiliated with CUHK Jockey Club Institute of Ageing where he collaborates with public health experts on the inter-relationships between the built environment, urban climate and the health of citizens. He is experienced in translation research which transfers scientific knowledge into practical guidance in climate-sensitive urban planning and design. He is currently working on a collaborative project on increasing the resilience of elderly population to the impacts of extreme hot weather in the future, which focuses on enhancing weather information services, mitigation strategies through neighbourhood and building design, and awareness and preparedness of elderly population through community services. He is also leading an international study of developing a global database for outdoor thermal comfort studies and establishing a standardised methodology for conducting outdoor thermal comfort surveys under the IAUC working group of outdoor thermal comfort.

Insight from "Towards Healthy Cities in the Age of Pandemics"

Physical activity is proven to have great benefits on health and other perspectives such as the environment. Transdisciplinary partnerships are required to improve physical activity and thus quality of life. The study aims to look at four categories to assess the built environment: 1) recreational resources (e.g. open space, aesthetics of environment), 2) land use characteristics, 3) neighbourhood form characteristics (e.g. street network and lighting), 4) community environment. It also reviewed a list of relevant physical and social factors such as walkability, accessibility to and availability of facilities, air quality, social connection, community participation, sense of belonging, socioeconomic status, and human behaviour; and examples from foreign countries, such as Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit, Built Environment and Active Transportation (Canada). 

 

Hong Kong is a high-density living environment with an average population density of built-up areas at 27,330 persons per sq. km., Kevin felt that there is a need to optimize future development and improve existing development. The study aims at developing the community assessment toolkit, so as to support decision-making and promote physical activity through urban design. The ongoing study will go through a series of engagement and consultation sessions and a field testing. A pilot study in Kwun Tong revealed issues (obstruction and poor quality of sidewalks, traffic congestions) that the team would use to improve the toolkit.