The relationship between health and the built environment is a key issue in both London and Mexico City and particularly impacting poor and vulnerable urban dwellers.
Both cities have significant issues with air quality, and its attendant causes — primarily traffic-related pollution, though other factors are also causal (including industrial pollution, domestic heating and cooling, waste-processing, and lack of ‘green infrastructure’ in the form of parks, trees and foliage).
This poor air quality significantly impinges on the health of citizens in both cities — and in many others worldwide — with the greatest cost in fundamental human terms (early, painful deaths through respiratory illnesses) as well as secondary costs in terms of healthcare.
This collaboration brought together partners from London and Mexico – Superflux, Laboratorio para la Ciudad at the Mayor’s Office Mexico City and the Royal College of Art in a collaborative partnership to share, sketch and co-design ‘best practice’ strategies, actions and policies that could enable a city’s infrastructure to increase citizens’ health and wellbeing, rather than reduce it. The project was supported as part of the Institutional Links programme of the Newton Fund.
The outcome of the two cities’ collaboration was a publication, ‘The Pursuit of Legible Policy: Encouraging Agency and Participation in the Complex Systems of the Contemporary Megalopolis‘.
This publication is the result of a binational collaboration in which urban laboratories from London and Mexico City worked together to identify and propose tools and methodologies to make policy legible.
Given the complexity of landscapes, legible policy has emerged as an important aim for urban laboratories, suggesting ways to increase citizen participation, heighten impact of policy decisions, allow for greater inclusion in political processes and stimulate citizen’s agency.
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About the Partners
Laboratorio para la Ciudad (Laboratory for the City) is Mexico City’s new experimental office for civic innovation and urban creativity, the first city government department of its kind in Latin America. The Lab is a space for rethinking, reimagining, and reinventing the way citizens and government can work together towards a more open, more liveable and more imaginative city. Their approach it not only as a matter of delivering better services or offering new channels for engagement, but truly reimagining the role of government and how it can contribute to building better cities.
Superflux create worlds, stories, and tools that provoke and inspire us to engage with the precarity of our rapidly changing world. Over the years, the studio has gained critical acclaim for producing work that navigates the entangled wilderness of our technology, politics, culture, and environment to imagine new ways of seeing, being, and acting.
Royal College of Art, London or RCA is a public research university in London, in the United Kingdom. It offers postgraduate degrees in art and design to students from over 60 countries; it is the only entirely postgraduate art and design university in the world.