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Integrating healthy lifestyles into urban design

Principal Urban Design Advisor at Transport for London (TfL), Gareth Sumner, wins City's 2014 Design Council Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL) Scholarship Competition.
by John Stevenson

Gareth Sumner, Principal Urban Design Advisor at Transport for London (TfL) is the winner of the 2014 Design Council Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL) Scholarship Competition.

Gareth SumnerGareth has developed a novel concept designed to incentivise users to exercise more, explore their city and reduce the pressure on the transport network.

The concept provides a simple hand-holdable navigation device that guides users as they walk around the city and provides them with rewards for completing journeys on foot instead of by means of public transport. Through its 'Active by Design' initiative, candidates for the 2014 Design Council MICL Scholarship were asked to propose ideas to encourage people to increase their everyday levels of activity set against the backdrop of 68 percent of men and 58 percent of women being obese in England.

Entrants were asked to come up with ideas that were directly related to a building or public space of their choice and to propose changes that could be made to the design of buildings, external areas and connections to locations off site and the potential for new products and improved graphics on site to encourage activity.

Delighted at winning the Design Council Scholarship Competition and grateful to City for the opportunity to study on the MICL programme, Sumner said:

"I can't wait to work with the course experts to try and get my proposal for Lobster off the drawing board and turned into something that could start to make people healthier. In the Urban Design team at TfL, we constantly look for ways that the public realm can better integrate our stations into the city and encourage more walking and cycling. Lobster adds another layer to those physical interventions by giving people the knowledge and incentives to walk more and enjoy the city. I am looking forward to applying what I learn on the course to projects at TfL and beyond."

Beth Gardner, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Design Council said:

"I was delighted to see a wide range of intriguing and innovative 'active by design' ideas from the entrants and look forward to inviting the winner and runners-up in to meet the Design Council team and to see how we might help them with further developments."

Kevin Gibbons, Director of City's Property & Facilities Department and Dr Christine Rajah, Assistant Director of Human Resources for City's Occupational Health & Safety and Head of the Student Health Service sat on the competition's panel of judges.

Gibbons was impressed by the diversity of the entries and said that "the best of them had the power to make you think about how a number of aspects could be taken forward, and how far-reaching the consequences could be". Dr Rajah is pleased with the alignment of the objectives of City's "Well" campaign to those of the competition:

"I was delighted to be part of this scholarship competition. As an occupational physician the wellbeing of people at work is important to me and at the heart of City's "Well" campaign for campus wellbeing. Increasing physical activity is a proven way of improving health and wellbeing. It was inspiring to see so much creativity in designing ways of incorporating this into the built environment and travel. 

Dr Sara Jones, Senior Lecturer in Creative Interactive System Design and course director for the Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL) said:

"We are really happy that the Design Council were able to work with us on the MICL scholarship competition again this year, and grateful for their invaluable inputs, both in choosing the theme of the competition, and in helping to identify the winning entry. We are also very grateful to all of our excellent judges for their generous contributions of time and expertise."

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