Active Design

What is Active Design?

Active Design is an approach to the development of buildings that uses architecture and urban planning to make daily physical activity more inviting, and to encourage social interaction in new multi-family development.

example of active design with open staircase

How Active Design Impacts People

Changes to our physical and social environments have exerted powerful influences on people's overall caloric intake, the composition of their diets, and the frequency and intensity of physical activity at work, school, at home and during leisure time.

Furthermore, a recent Vancouver Foundation Study revealed that a majority of residents living in apartments feel lonely. Recognizing that the majority of City residents live in higher-density buildings and neighbourhoods, and that physical activity and social interaction are key components of healthy lifestyles, the City encourages and enables healthy activity through a variety of measures.

Do Buildings Already Include Active Design?

Current standards indirectly result in building designs that discourage the use of stairs and social interaction. The development of the City’s Active Design Guidelines involved Architectural and Building Code consultant work to resolve design and building code issues to better encourage physical activity and social interaction in new multi-family developments.

How the City Encourages Active Design

The City's Official Community Plan identifies community well-being as a key policy area:

  • Land Use Objectives 1.3.10: Encourage active, healthy lifestyles and the opportunity for more social connections through planning and active design principles that encourage physical activity and contribute to enhanced walkability and active streets, sidewalks, and public spaces;
  • Land Use Objective 1.4.4: Incorporate active-design principles in new development that encourage physical movement and social interaction thereby contributing to a healthier community.

The City has made changes to the Zoning Bylaw and developed the Active Design Guidelines to incentivize Active Design in new development. 

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