What is Active Design?

Active design = evidence-based design, development, and operational strategies to support healthy communities.

The phrase emerged out the Active Design Guidelines, which was a manual originally published by the City of New York in 2010 to guide the creation of health-promoting buildings, streets, and urban spaces, based on the latest academic research and best practices in the field.

The active design movement was inspired by the historic precedent of built environment strategies implemented in the 19th century, which led to a massive reduction in the spread of infectious diseases. The original Active Design Guidelines focused on increasing opportunities for daily physical activity in order to combat growing chronic disease rates. (See graphic below.)

The Center for Active Design was established out of these origins, and has built on this work globally to translate public health evidence into practical resources that address a full range of holistic health outcomes.

  • Designers play a crucial role in combating the most rapidly growing public health epidemics of our time: obesity and its related chronic diseases.

  • NYC requires that Active Design strategies are integrated into all new City-funded development projects.