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      Accessing the Neighbourhood: Built Environment Performance for People with Disability

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          In the face of rapid urbanisation, increasing diversity of the human condition, ageing populations, failing infrastructure, and mounting evidence that the built environment affects health and well-being, the existing built environment still fails to meet the needs of people with disability. Nevertheless, in something of a parallel universe, improving built environment ‘sustainability’ performance, via measurement, receives much contemporary attention, and analysing the built environment at micro-scale (buildings), meso-scale (neighbourhood) and macro-scale (city-wide) is undertaken from various multidisciplinary perspectives. But, although built environment performance is already measured in many ways, and community inclusion is considered essential for health and well-being, accessibility performance for people with disability, at neighbourhood scale, is rarely considered. The institutional and medical models of disability help explain the inaccessibility of the existing built environment. On the other hand, the social and human rights models of disability offer insight into improving the accessibility of the existing built environment for people with disability. However, ‘disability’ and ‘built environment’ tend not to mix. People with disability continue to experience lack of meaningful involvement in research, participation in decision-making, partnership equality, and direct influence over policy, with the built environment arena increasingly becoming a private-sector activity. The actors involved, however, have little understanding of either the accessibility needs of people with disability, or the inaccessibility, particularly at neighbourhood scale, of the existing built environment. It is in this context that this paper explores the design, planning and politics of an inaccessible built environment, concluding that assessing the built environment accessibility performance for people with disability, at neighbourhood scale, is an essential component in the process of built environment accessibility improvement. Requiring collaboration between the built environment and disability knowledge domains, a new tool measuring neighbourhood accessibility, the Universal Mobility Index (UMI), has emerged and is undergoing further development.

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          Measuring the built environment for physical activity: state of the science.

          Physical inactivity is one of the most important public health issues in the U.S. and internationally. Increasingly, links are being identified between various elements of the physical-or built-environment and physical activity. To understand the impact of the built environment on physical activity, the development of high-quality measures is essential. Three categories of built environment data are being used: (1) perceived measures obtained by telephone interview or self-administered questionnaires; (2) observational measures obtained using systematic observational methods (audits); and (3) archival data sets that are often layered and analyzed with GIS. This review provides a critical assessment of these three types of built-environment measures relevant to the study of physical activity. Among perceived measures, 19 questionnaires were reviewed, ranging in length from 7 to 68 questions. Twenty audit tools were reviewed that cover community environments (i.e., neighborhoods, cities), parks, and trails. For GIS-derived measures, more than 50 studies were reviewed. A large degree of variability was found in the operationalization of common GIS measures, which include population density, land-use mix, access to recreational facilities, and street pattern. This first comprehensive examination of built-environment measures demonstrates considerable progress over the past decade, showing diverse environmental variables available that use multiple modes of assessment. Most can be considered first-generation measures, so further development is needed. In particular, further research is needed to improve the technical quality of measures, understand the relevance to various population groups, and understand the utility of measures for science and public health.
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            Life cycle assessment: past, present, and future.

            Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) has developed fast over the last three decades. Whereas LCA developed from merely energy analysis to a comprehensive environmental burden analysis in the 1970s, full-fledged life cycle impact assessment and life cycle costing models were introduced in the 1980s and 1990 s, and social-LCA and particularly consequential LCA gained ground in the first decade of the 21st century. Many of the more recent developments were initiated to broaden traditional environmental LCA to a more comprehensive Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis (LCSA). Recently, a framework for LCSA was suggested linking life cycle sustainability questions to knowledge needed for addressing them, identifying available knowledge and related models, knowledge gaps, and defining research programs to fill these gaps. LCA is evolving into LCSA, which is a transdisciplinary integration framework of models rather than a model in itself. LCSA works with a plethora of disciplinary models and guides selecting the proper ones, given a specific sustainability question. Structuring, selecting, and making the plethora of disciplinary models practically available in relation to different types of life cycle sustainability questions is the main challenge.
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              The neighbourhood physical environment and active travel in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

              Background Perceived and objectively-assessed aspects of the neighbourhood physical environment have been postulated to be key contributors to regular engagement in active travel (AT) in older adults. We systematically reviewed the literature on neighbourhood physical environmental correlates of AT in older adults and applied a novel meta-analytic approach to statistically quantify the strength of evidence for environment-AT associations. Methods Forty two quantitative studies that estimated associations of aspects of the neighbourhood built environment with AT in older adults (aged ≥ 65 years) and met selection criteria were reviewed and meta-analysed. Findings were analysed according to five AT outcomes (total walking for transport, within-neighbourhood walking for transport, combined walking and cycling for transport, cycling for transport, and all AT outcomes combined) and seven categories of the neighbourhood physical environment (residential density/urbanisation, walkability, street connectivity, access to/availability of services/destinations, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, aesthetics and cleanliness/order, and safety and traffic). Results Most studies examined correlates of total walking for transport. A sufficient amount of evidence of positive associations with total walking for transport was found for residential density/urbanisation, walkability, street connectivity, overall access to destinations/services, land use mix, pedestrian-friendly features and access to several types of destinations. Littering/vandalism/decay was negatively related to total walking for transport. Limited evidence was available on correlates of cycling and combined walking and cycling for transport, while sufficient evidence emerged for a positive association of within-neighbourhood walking with pedestrian-friendly features and availability of benches/sitting facilities. Correlates of all AT combined mirrored those of walking for transport. Positive associations were also observed with food outlets, business/institutional/industrial destinations, availability of street lights, easy access to building entrance and human and motorised traffic volume. Several but inconsistent individual- and environmental-level moderators of associations were identified. Conclusions Results support strong links between the neighbourhood physical environment and older adults’ AT. Future research should focus on the identification of types and mixes of destinations that support AT in older adults and how these interact with individual characteristics and other environmental factors. Future research should also aim to clarify dose-response relationships through multi-country investigations and data-pooling from diverse geographical regions. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0471-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]PhD candidate, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia; majarch@
                [2 ]Director, Visionary Design Development PTY LTD, Melbourne, Australia
                Author notes

                Guest Editor: Glyn Everett, University of the West of England, UK

                UCL Press
                01 December 2019
                : 16
                : 1
                © 2019, The Author •

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited • DOI:

                Pages: 24
                Custom metadata
                Jackson, M. ‘Accessing the Neighbourhood: Built Environment Performance for People with Disability.’. Architecture_MPS, 2019, 16( 1): 4, pp. 1–24. DOI:


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