Deadline 15 Jul 2022

Preventive Urbanism. Researches and Practices for Healthier Cities

Exactly two years after the declaration of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic by the World Health Organization, the whole world – and especially the Western one – is getting ready for the Recovery in a deeply transformed political, social and economic framework. During this long emergency, urban experiences in different countries have shown that the Covid-19 has been an accelerator for those realities that already in previous years had structurally questioned themselves on livability, urban and environmental quality, sustainable mobility, accessibility to services and territorial welfare (especially health-related models), acting accordingly and testing new strategies, tools and interventions.


Guest Editors: Elena Dorato, Pablo Martinez Diez, Mar Santamaria-Varas

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The need to rethink the concept of what we consider “healthy” has emerged, re-interpreting that cyclical relationship between the person, the city and the environment – also thanks to new scientific evidence and their application to urban and territorial planning and design – to overcome the different ideas of health, depending on the context and local challenges.

Thanks mainly to the progress of technology, today the urban and territorial analysis is able to address dimensions of complexity until now impossible to define such as noise and air quality, namely those impacts resulting from urbanization that have been described by the WHO as “invisible pandemics”.Moreover, several branches of the health sciences have developed computational models that specifically address urban narratives, driven by newly available data and improved analytical capabilities and methodologies. All this makes it possible to combine, within the same workspace, urban dimensions with their impact on health: a relationship that has become extremely evident in the various studies on Covid-19 which, in addition to allowing the mapping of disease, have associated it with precise urban and socio-economic parameters.

Preventive Urbanism builds on these reflections, understanding how the “cure” of the disease has obsessed the project at different scales, proposing and often imposing solutions, materials, architectural typologies and models of urban and territorial development. From the environmental determinism of classical Greek culture, for more than a millennium the medical and urban/architectural disciplines have hybridized each other, reaching only in relatively recent times the spatialization of disease as a physical-operational device, as well as conceptual framework of reference for the development of policies and interventions aimed at the treatment of urban health problems. It is precisely this transition, thanks to the work of social reformers during the European industrial revolution, that gave birth – according to many authors – to the discipline of modern Urbanism as a therapy able to cure the urban disease.

Today, the ancient and well-established biological metaphor “human body/urban body” has further evolved, coming to replace the idea of the living body (which, by its nature, changes over time in a constant tension between conditions of health and disease) with the ideal of the healthy body and, consequently, of the “healthy” city. However, the challenges in the field of urban planning and health have changed: from poor ventilation and organic waste disposal capacity as the primary reason for the spread of epidemics, to contemporary issues such as air and light pollution, overexposure to noise, sedentary lifestyles, chronic diseases, overweight, stress, and extreme socioeconomic inequalities. Most of these issues are directly related to urban and territorial development models: the auto-centric mobility paradigm, low-quality food accessibility, excessive urban density (or extreme fragmentation), energy production and supply systems, new forms of consumption and distribution, tourism – all dynamics exacerbated by climate change, the digital revolution, and possible pandemics.

Today more than ever, after two years at the mercy of a global health emergency, it seems important to ask ourselves how cities and territories can finally address the health issue in a structural way, moving from a curative to a preventive approach, from an idea of individual health to a collective health. The trans-disciplinary perspective is necessary to address the complexity of our time and should be able to overcome the holistic rhetoric also proposed by the latest WHO One Health strategy.

This issue of CONTESTI aims to stimulate the debate on cities, territories and health, inviting authors from different fields of knowledge to present their reflections through theoretical, methodological and descriptive contributions (e.g. case studies, analysis of new urban and territorial policies, project approaches, design experimentations) on the following topics:

  • Researches, case studies and contributions highlighting the role of the urban environment and its characteristics (i.e. physical, functional, ecological, performative) as fundamental determinant of population’s well-being and health conditions;
  • Trans-disciplinary experiences and cases where public health studies inform or modify urban and regional planning and/or design;
  • Research and case studies related to the relationship and effects of climate change (at different scales)on the environment and health;
  • Analysis of urban or territorial policies and post-Covid design implementations conducted to support improved public health conditions and resilience to possible emergency events;
  • Contributions on the role and function of urban ecosystem conditions in inducing favorable settings fora healthier and more “biophilic” urban environments;
  • Theoretical reflections on the evolution of disciplinary relations between Urbanism and Health;
  • Research that develops innovative methodological approaches in the analytical and design interpretation of the role of the urban environment to promote better conditions for human health in its multiple meanings.


The call is open until 15 July, 2022 

To submit your full paper, please go to our submission platform: 

Registration and login as Author with the CONTESTI system is required to submit and follow the submission process online. Later, the account is necessary to track the status of your submission.

The proposals have to be unpublished and written in Italian, English, French or Spanish; the article length has to be between 4.000 and 7.000 words, including spaces, title, authors, abstract, keywords, captions and references.

Please pay attention on how to ensure a Double Blind Review when submit your paper.

The proposals can include a maximum of 10 pictures with good definition (at least 300 dpi/inch and 25 cm the smallest side) free from publishing obligations or accompanied with the specific permission.

The approved papers after the revision. endowed with ISSN, will be published firstly as online first form and later on in one of the thematic section of the 2|2022 issue of CONTESTI.