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[Event Report] Redesigning Tokyo: Urban Design for Community Wellbeing A Global Multi-Disciplinary Evening Discussion (Aug. 1, 2017)

[Event Report] Redesigning Tokyo: Urban Design for Community Wellbeing A Global Multi-Disciplinary Evening Discussion (Aug. 1, 2017)

The U.K. based Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) and HGPI jointly hosted an evening conference entitled “Redesigning Tokyo: Urban Design for Community Well-being.” Experts from various fields held an in-depth cross-disciplinary discussion, covering themes including the latest global trends and innovations in community health and urban planning, as well as an introduction of case examples of current design approaches to community well-being in Tokyo.

The conference was held at the Coca-Cola Japan headquarters building, which has obtained LEED Platinum status certified by the international LEED green building program. 


■ Speakers
• Yoshiharu Kim (Director, National Information Center of Disaster Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health)
• Naomi Sakurai (President, Cancer Solutions Co., Ltd.)
• Masaharu Sako (Director, Nerima Ken-ikukai Hospital)
• Fumiko Mega (Professor of Social Work, School of Health Sciences, Tokai University)
• Taro Yokoyama (Palliative Care Doctor, Yokohama Municipal Citizens’ Hospital)
• Tadamichi Shimogawara (Representative Director, Silverwood Co., Ltd.)
• Yoshiyuki Kawano (Clinical Psychologist/ Assistant Professor, Center for Diversity and Accessibility, University of Tsukuba)
• Kana Hishida (Tokyu Land Corporation)
• Shigeki Irie (Project Director, Jun Mitsui & Associates Inc. Architects and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects Japan, Inc.)

■ Summary
The event brought together architects (involved in urban planning), healthcare professionals, policy makers, academics, and other experts to share insights and experiences in urban design and community health. A series of five-minute presentations were given by eight experts on the impact of urban planning on health and well-being in Tokyo. This was followed by a virtual reality experience, and a tour of the Coca-Cola Japan HQ building. 

Layla McCay, Director of UD/MH, opened the session by introducing the purpose of the meeting. She also presented an overview of a research project on promoting mental health in Tokyo, as well as the results from this project. 

■ Expert Presentations
■ Yoshiharu Kim

Psychiatry and mental healthcare are closely related to urban planning. This is clear from history, in that many patients with mental disorders in the past were isolated from society. Although patients used to be hospitalized in large facilities, we are now seeing a global trend toward community-based care at smaller facilities. How can we create inclusive communities where people can comfortably enjoy their lives? My research focus continues to be on the role of communities, which comprise an essential part of mental health.

■ Naomi Sakurai
It has been demonstrated in the United Kingdom that urban planning contributes to health promotion and environmental improvements. Research has shown that improvements to urban environments result in enhanced well-being and improved economies, and consequently, this helps to vitalize cities. I have been working to apply the lessons of this kind of research to communities in Japan, through projects such as the “Toyoshikidai Project,” which is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Tokyo. Urban planning is also critical for supporting cancer patients. I served on the committee that helped design the “Phase 3 Basic Plan for Promoting Cancer Management,” and I made sure that urban infrastructure planning was incorporated into that plan. I hope to realize “healthy urban planning” in Japan that works to engage all generations, including senior citizens.
■ Masaharu Sako
I work on an urban planning project based around medical and nursing care partnerships for a super-aging society. The title of this project is “The Healthy Road: A Health, Medicine, and Welfare City Concept.” I believe that good designs have the power to change people’s lives. Designs can create communities that can facilitate social participation among people living with chronic diseases or handicaps. Urban planning should pay attention not only to technical functions, but also the way that design and the extent that people enjoy a space can promote health.

■ Fumiko Mega
My research focuses on the characteristics of spaces where people feel comfortable, which are the kinds of spaces that can give rise to sustainable communities. In my opinion, there are four elements integral to the creation of such spaces. First, the space should be highly stylish, with good design features. Second, such spaces should be established based on discussions with residents, rather than just using whatever spaces already exist. Another point is to not treat residents as guests, but ensure that the spaces have atmospheres where people feel that they can actively participate without fixed roles. Lastly, it is better to involve newer residents in the process of selecting and creating such spaces, as it is important to ensure that the space features an open environment where everyone feels encouraged to participate. All of this together can help to create a sustainable community.  

■ Taro Yokoyama
I think it is difficult to leave decision-making responsibilities about dementia patients to only healthcare professionals, especially in the context of a super-aged society. I am a physician, but rather than only dealing with patients in terms of disease treatment, I have always felt that I wanted to do more to improve the quality of the lives of my patients. That is why I started Indicocrea, an NPO that works with junior high and high school students. At Indicocrea evets, students consider problems from healthcare facilities, discuss what they can do, and carry out social activities. We also facilitate initiatives to utilize community centers as communal gathering places. This has all led me to reconsider the concept of Personal Social Responsibility (PSR). The most important point in encouraging PSR is to consider the way that people experience the world. For example, the virtual reality simulations made by Silverwood help people to experience the viewpoint of people with dementia. It can assist people in recognizing that many problems related to dementia are not caused by dementia itself, but by our unfriendly society. Projects like this highlight the importance of efforts to make it possible for people living with dementia to maintain their social roles in their communities. 
■ Yoshiyuki Kawano
My research in clinical psychology revealed that the people living with dementia often face restrictions in their daily lives, especially in urban areas. At train stations, for instance, many report barriers such as difficulty in handling vending machines or finding bus stops. This indicates the need to improve environments to encourage social participation among people living with dementia. People with early stage dementia can usually maintain their lifestyles with minimal support. In Machida City, Tokyo, a participatory workshop was held focusing on the voices of people with dementia. This workshop produced a vision for dementia policy. We aim to establish a multi-sector platform that we are calling the “Dementia Friendly Japan Initiative” to implement this policy. We aim to help realize a dementia-friendly society.
■ Kana Hishida
For the Setagaya-nakamachi project in Tokyo, Tokyu Land Corporation has been collaborating with the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom for the design of senior residences, incorporating seven rules developed by the Centre for dementia-friendly designs. For example, we use consistent colors for floors to prevent falling, and clearly mark washrooms to enable elderly persons to easily identify them without depending on their memories. These unique and considerate ways of designing have been appreciated not only by people with dementia but also their families and nursing staff.  

■ Shigeki Irie
I was in charge of designing the new Coca-Cola Japan HQ building constructed in July 2016. In order to obtain LEED Platinum status, the design focused on interactions between staff and nature, as well as functions that promote mental well-being at the workplace.   

After the presentations by experts, there was an introduction of the “Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health Edition 3” written by Layla McCay and her team, followed by an active Q&A session.

Organizers: Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health, UK (UD/MH) / Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI)

Sponsors: British Embassy Tokyo / Coca-Cola Japan Co., Ltd. / National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) / NPO Promotion Committee for Healthy Cities

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