Exhibition explores impact of built environment on people's health and habits

EARLIER this month, the Gallery of Australian Design announced the launch of BLOOM: Healthy Spaces Exhibition 2012, a new Canberra exhibition that looks at the effect the built environment has on public health and the health of communities.

Produced in partnership with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, BLOOM focusses on looking at the world from a landscape perspective and determining whether or not we are designing enough spaces that promote healthy lifestyles.

"Some outdoor spaces are really healthier than others," said exhibition curator, Gweneth Leigh. "This exhibition looks at the places outside our doorstep – where we live, where we work, how we travel – and questions how their design makes us healthy or sick."

"This matters because three out of every five adults – and one in four children - are overweight or obese. Globally, the number of obese people now outweighs the number of malnourished. And growing in partnership with our waistlines are associated medical problems like Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma."

"From parks to prisons and high schools to hospitals, elements of the everyday are presented as a way to better understand the qualities of the places we're creating in the age of Facebook and fast food," said Ms Leigh. "BLOOM is about assessing how these spaces are impacting our health and habits."

Within the themes of Play, Heal, Learn, Work, Live and Travel, BLOOM's 26 projects include sites in Halls Creek, Western Australia; Southport, Queensland; Woodville, South Australia; Villawood, New South Wales; Canberra, ACT; and Chirnside Park, Victoria.

Magdalene Keaney, Director of the Gallery of Australian Design, said design of the built environment is a key issue in Australia as cities continue to grow and develop.

"Good design can help us live better lives and we are thrilled to present this innovative exhibition which encourages vitally important discussion of if we are doing enough to make this happen," Ms Keaney said.

The BLOOM exhibition was officially opened at the Gallery of Australian Design, Canberra, on Tuesday 8 May and runs until 9 June 2012. More information is available from <>.

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