Therapeutic placemaking as a pathway to improved public health: realising our health and care centres of the future

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Science and Engineering


'Good design' for health and care, and the development of industry and public sector skills to support such improvements in infrastructure, will be key if the devolved governments of the UK are to address the challenges brought about by an ageing society, and the need for clean growth. The aim of this research is to examine and advance an interdisciplinary design innovation piloted by a West of Scotland Health Board NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) over a sustained period of building modernisation that identifies lessons of immediate regional relevance, and for wider future application in other UK regions. 'Therapeutic placemaking' is a bespoke Arts and Health strategy that supports facility functionality through novel design features (including interactive way finding, personalising patient dignity, and positive distraction installations) and promotes wellbeing by bringing a cultural dimension into the healthcare environment. The innovation is delivered by a public artist working at the interface of a built environment team, the health service, local communities, and local authority partners, to develop generative placemaking concepts that will inspire the design of a new-build NHS project.

The Fellowship's programme of research will take place in the post-industrial town of Clydebank, where the development of a new NHSGGC primary care facility is being envisioned as the catalyst for wider processes of urban renewal. Efforts at local regeneration programs have so far struggled to identify solutions to the complex and compounded legacies of industrial decline, including the deterioration of public health, wellbeing and the local environment. Research leadership is required to ask if another approach is possible, and evaluate its effectiveness. Partnering with NHSGGC, Architecture and Design Scotland, and three local authority departments (West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, West Dunbartonshire Libraries and Museums, and West Dunbartonshire Planning and Building), the Fellowship will develop a practice-led therapeutic placemaking approach for the new facility (Clydebank Health and Care Centre), and then evaluate its impact on service-users, service providers and the wider community upon its opening in September 2020. Through the collaborative and iterative development of such an approach, this project will advance research around critical and creative placemaking in the fields of feminist urban studies, arts and health, and heritage futures.

The Fellowship will enable innovative and collaborative research leadership in regional efforts to improve infrastructures and facilities for health provision in NHS Greater Glasgow. It will embed a 'therapeutic placemaking' approach in the health, public and education sectors, and the architecture and design industry. Additionally, it will engage local community representatives in knowledge exchange, and consultative and evaluative processes around the application of novel therapeutic placemaking interventions. Concentrated Fellowship actions at the local-authority level will scale up through research outcomes and skill-sharing, making research Leadership an asset in UK-wide industry settings and regional public sectors. Transferable innovations and insights will be shared via national Arts and Health and design programs, generating improved industrial capacity to deliver renewed spaces of health and care that are health and place improving for our ageing society.

Planned Impact

The proposed project will identify the role that TP, as an emerging interdisciplinary innovation, can play in making spaces of health and care that are health and place improving, and futureproofed to face pressing societal challenges. The project design identifies and creates opportunities for maximising impacts in an innovation ecosystem encompassing local community members, and relevant stakeholders in the public sector, and architecture and design industries. Research is embedded in a 'live' capital works project to realise the benefits of TP at the local scale, and this impact is then scaled up with the production of skilling resources and knowledge exchange (KE) activities that harness the potential for nationwide impact. In this way, the project design enables and accommodates emerging opportunities during the project lifecycle for the maximization of impact.

PATHWAY 1 TO TP: DELIVERING IMPROVEMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND IMPACTING ON CULTURES OF HEALTH AND WELLBEING - This pathway centres on capacity building within a built environment team, a local authority, and local communities, to envision and deliver a health improving and place enhancing NHS primary care facility. Integrated thinking and working is enabled by participatory research that is conducted in the community to identify compelling placemaking concepts, and to create opportunities for knowledge sharing, learning and engagement, around matters of Health and Place, in the run up to the opening of the new facility. The pathway culminates in the coproduction of a TP intervention with an empowered local interest working group that will be embedded in the new facility for the benefit of service-users, service-providers, and elderly users in particular.

PATHWAY 2 TO TP: REGIONALISING IMPACT BETWEEN CLYDEBANK AND GREENOCK - This pathway opens the scope of research to the NHSGGC Health Board region. The impact pathway centres around the coproduction of a TP intervention with the lead artist on an NHSGGC building modernisation project in Greenock, that will enable the exchange of knowledge and creative, resourceful TP techniques between neighbouring post-industrial riverside communities, forging new community resiliencies and solidarities. Capacity building will be consolidated with the delivery of a TP intervention - a 'Healthy Journeys' scheme - that will impact on the clean growth credentials of both facilities, and provide health improving opportunities for service-users, service-providers and wider communities.

PATHWAY 3 TO TP: EVALUATION, CAPACITY-BUILDING AND RESKILLING - This pathway builds on practice-led research, to develop skilling resources, including a TP Portfolio and Guidance Note, that will enable UK Arts and Health leaders, UK design and construction industry (including architects, and public artists) and UK local authorities to take up the TP approach. Resources will be disseminated at a TP KE Symposium, attended by stakeholders from across the UK, and then deposited in the NHSGGC Public Health Resource Unit for future use. Such capacity building will impact on NHS infrastructure development that supports health improvement, and sustainable growth.

Impacts across pathways will be consolidated through regular KE meetings with the director of Architecture and Design Scotland (A+DS), Scotland's leading professional body for excellence in the built realm, to advance A+DS' placemaking objectives in the context of deindustrialisation, and to identify how TP can vitalise design policy for health.

To ensure strategic oversight of impact planning and delivery across the project's lifecycle, and to identify research impact legacies and potential follow-on Leadership Fellowship activities, a TP Impact Advisory Group (IAG) will be established. The P-I's prior experience with socially engaged arts practice and ethnographic research in health and regeneration settings will drive all pathway to impact activities and associated outputs.


10 25 50
Description - Informing and inspiring approaches in therapeutic placemaking in two new primary care settings that are due to open at the end of 2020 - Clydebank Health and Care Centre, and Greenock Health and Care Centre - Challenging institutional thinking within local authority Health and Social Care partnership about the role of the arts in health - Educating Cultural Services within local authority about the intersection of arts, health and heritage - Supporting and encouraging experimental activity and original thinking within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Improvement - Skilling architects, landscape architects and public artists in therapeutic placemaking approaches
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Environment,Healthcare,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Description Advancing Therapeutic Placemaking approaches nationally 
Organisation Architecture and Design Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution -Advancing research around critical and creative placemaking -Advancing research around health and place -Advancing research around placemaking in contexts of deindustrialisation and decline -Identify how Therapeutic Placemaking can vitalise design policy for health
Collaborator Contribution -Director of Design is a member of the project's Impact Advisory Group -Project meetings and knowledge exchange activities
Impact In progress
Start Year 2019
Description Advancing Therapeutic Placemaking within the NHS 
Organisation NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution -Advancing approaches in therapeutic placemaking within two new NHSGGC primary care facilities -Reviewing the critical role that therapeutic place making plays in making new spaces of health and care that are health improving - an approach which has been piloted by NHSGGC Arts & Health leaders -Examining and advancing the progressive Arts & Health approaches taken by NHSGGC identifying lessons for future application in other UK regions, Arts and Health leaders in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Scotland wide.
Collaborator Contribution -NHSGGC Arts & Health Leader providing non-academic mentoring once a month -NHSGGC Arts & Health Leader nabling/supporting design intervention delivery via Arts and Environment Steering group -NHSGGC Health Improvement enabling access to archives and people
Impact In progress
Start Year 2019
Description Therapeutic Placemaking in West Dunbartonshire 
Organisation West Dunbartonshire Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution -Advancing the devlopment of therapeutic placemaking approaches for a new health and care centre within the local authority -Challenging institutional thinking about the role of the arts in health within the local authority Health and Social Care Partnership -Highlighting the role of place, and placemaking in health improvement, which is impacting on regeneration services within the local authority -Educating on the intersection of arts, health, heritage and place which is impacting on cultural services and the way that they communicate cultural heritage -Identifying opportunities for cross-departmental thinking and doing, and sharing of resources
Collaborator Contribution -Access to a hot desk three days a week in Clydebank health centre within the local authority to enable close-working with key Health and Care personnel -Head of Health and Community Care, the Head of Planning and Building Standards, and the Head of Cultural Services are a member of the project's Impact Advisory Group -A regular working relationship with the Place and Design Officer, Planning and Regeneration Officers -Meeting space for a local interest working group in the heritage department of the library -Health and Social Care Partnership officers providing support in accessing contacts and information -Regular contact with heritage officers to discuss archives -Regular contact with Place and Design Officer to review regeneration activity within the local authority
Impact In progress
Start Year 2019