Anna Brückner

Working title: "Blue health for all?” Investigating urban blue spaces as potentially therapeutic landscapes for elderly people in deprived communities. Learning from cases in Ruhr and Ahmedabad Metropolis"

Research countries: Germany & India

Research theme: water resource management, environmental health, urban planning


As the daily lifeworld of townspeople, urban quarters have distinct impacts on health which can be expressed as health chances as well as health risks. Due to its importance for residents and its complexity, this setting is a notably chance and a specific challenge for measures of health promotion. Resulting in an expansion of the town population, the international development trend of urbanization presents urban planners / policymakers with the challenge of creating healthy living space which meet comprehensive requirements like environmental and social compatibility, environmental justice / participation. Meeting health enhancing requirements is declared in several position papers (see WHO-project ‘Healthy cities’ or federal program ‘Soziale Stadt’).

Urban development / spatial planning mainly influence health by designing the environment. Such processes of change can reduce health risks (e.g. by creating recreation space like green belts / ‘urban blue’) as well as create new health risks. In the context of implementing / revitalizing urban waters, it is a subject of controversial discussion, whether health enhancing effects of urban blue are confronted with causing a (dangerous to health) process of gentrification.

All over the world, segregation leads to the development of deprived urban quarters which embrace various deficits, harming the health of its residents. This means that compared to other districts, health risks are much more pronounced and health resources are lacking (e.g. fewer and less qualitative manifestation of green belts / urban blue). Health inequity has already been scientifically proven as a widely distributed challenge. Considering the health enhancing effects of urban waters, urban blue projects immediately suggest itself using it as a city planning tool of health promotion. My challenging research question: (How) can urban waters be used to create health chances in deprived quarters? What are beneficial effects of implementing urban blue projects in such districts and how does it work without leading to health risks (e.g. gentrification)? Are decision makers sensible of health promoting effects of urban waters? How do they cooperate with the population to design need-based urban waters? 

Research results could be used to support policy-/ decision makers (e.g. urban planner, neighborhood manager) in the implementation of sustainable urban blue projects, thus promoting health (chances) especially in deprived districts and countering health inequity. Therefore, a checklist / guideline based on the results could be authored, including criteria which should be taken into account when implementing urban water projects. Providing a data base of analyzed cases is also useful to support the cooperation between relevant actors (particularly decision makers and quarter residents) by creating a basis for discussion (e.g. to refer to best practice) and thus contributing to a shared decision making.


Prof. Dr. Thomas Kistemann (IHPH)

Prof. Dr. Mariele Evers (GIUB)


Phone: +49 228 / 73 - 6726

Email: annabrueckner(at)