Sustainable cities: the tranquility goal

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Sustainable cities: the tranquility goal
Meiji Jingu shrine, Tokyo / © Nathan Gibbs
Sustainable cities: the tranquility goal
Meiji Jingu shrine, Tokyo / © Nathan Gibbs

Tranquility in our cities is a prerequisite for wellbeing and sustainability, and the creation of tranquil places demands to be on the sustainable buildings and cities agenda.

Urban density – a core pillar of sustainability – is bringing us into much closer proximity. We are creating more vibrant, dynamic and global cities. Digitalisation is making life faster and more stimulating, connected and disconnected; we walk around with our faces in our phones.

Meanwhile, wellbeing has emerged as a major sustainability theme in property and increasing attention is being given to mental health. Forty-five per cent of Australians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime and in any given year one million will have depression and two million will have anxiety, according to beyondblue.

On the upside there is increasing acknowledgement that enhanced mental wellbeing can provide quality of life and productivity benefits across the whole population. Indeed, at an Australian Institute of Company Directors course I attended recently, mindfulness practices on boards were actively encouraged.

Where in our inner cities can people go for peace, to relax the mind and ground themselves? Such places are more often scarce, hidden or inconvenient to reach, particularly within our CBDs where our white-collar workforce needs to be most productive. Where can the typical office worker go for 15 minutes to clear their head or even practice meditation?

Balancing our cities with sufficient amounts of tranquil places should be a goal of our sustainability movement. It is a vital counterpoint to our highly stimulating cities and improves mental wellbeing. […]

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