A salutogenic urban design framework: the case of UK local high streets and older people

Luca Brunelli*, Harry Smith, Ryan Woolrych

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


The article provides a novel look at the links between salutogenesis, health promotion, and urban design supported by the findings of recent research on local high streets and their benefits for the well-being of older people. Salutogenesis and the related explanatory concept of sense of coherence (SOC) have provided a theoretical framework for developing healthy settings interventions, shifting the focus from exploring barriers and deficits to assets and resources in promoting people’s health and well-being. While these concepts have informed policies and programmes at the level of regions and cities, no attempt has been made to establish more direct links with the disciplines devoted to the organization and design of the built environment at the scale of public spaces and streets. This article advances the idea that the main categories of SOC—comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness—have found application in urban design theory. Linking these categories with urban design concepts in a comprehensive framework, it is possible to guide interventions aimed at strenghtening well-being resources available in the public realm. This is corroborated by the findings resulting from a study of the well-being experiences of older people (n = 84) across a range of local high streets in the city of Edinburgh (UK) applying an innovative multi-methods approach. The discussion establishes the links between well-being benefits, SOC constructs and urban design concepts, and underscores the potential of the proposed framework to guide a design-oriented salutogenic approach to the built environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdaac102
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number5
Early online date26 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • ageing population
  • salutogenesis
  • urban design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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