Singapore to invest S$1m in research on how built environment affects mental health

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SINGAPORE: How much can someone’s mental well-being be affected by the built environment?

To find out, Singapore will embark on a three-year project that will help to shape how the city-state is planned and make it healthier and more liveable.

This builds on current research that has primarily focused on how the built environment affects physical health, as well as the benefits of greenery on mental well-being.

The government will invest S$1 million (US$742,820) in the project which will be led by researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), announced Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday (Jun 3).

"The study will examine factors such as urban design features, density, human behaviours and mental well-being,” he said on the second day of this year’s World Cities Summit, held at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“The evidence-based insights gleaned from this study will serve to better inform the way we rejuvenate, reinvent and re-imagine our city-state,” Mr Heng added.

A*STAR researchers have proposed to develop a framework and an index of indicators to link the built environment to mental well-being.

The eventual findings can help city planners better understand and shape the city's future. It could also impact where facilities are located, land use configuration, and the intensity of a land development.

The research project was commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing Development Board. It falls under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Masterplan, to which the government committed S$28 billion in 2020.

On Tuesday, Mr Heng noted that cities must continuously evolve and develop “good hard infrastructure”. These include buildings, roads, ports, and airports to enhance connectivity and convenience.

“And equally, cities need soft infrastructure – for people to form social connections and build a sense of community and identity,” he added.

“Both these dimensions are vital in keeping cities buzzing, dynamic and cohesive.”

CITIES CAN GET PEOPLE AWAY FROM SCREENS

Mr Michael Leong, senior executive director of SAA Architects, a member company of the Surbana Jurong Group, noted that Singapore has still been able to cover about 40 per cent of its land with greenery despite limited land space an...

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