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Henning Larsen: Urban Minded – creating inclusive cities

November 9, 2023

With the mental health of girls and young women on the decline, it becomes clear that the particular needs of this demographic have often been overlooked in the fabric of our cities. Recognizing the need for a multisectoral approach to mental health promotion, "Urban Minded," a research project led by Henning Larsen in collaboration with The National Institute of Public Health, uses qualitative methods to explore the subject of mental health and well-being amongst teenage girls in relation to the design of their urban surroundings.

Urban Minded – creating inclusive cities

Urban spaces are sites of simultaneousness and with current urbanization rates indicating that by 2050 70% of the global population will reside in cities, they are also consequential sites for generating social impact. ‘Urban Minded’ acknowledges the disparities in the use of urban outdoor spaces between teenage girls and boys, the persistence of gendered narratives about girls, and their increasing vulnerability to issues related to mental health. With existing research on these subjects being scattered and siloed, the project sought after the often-overlooked perspectives and needs of this user group.

To bridge this gap with an interdisciplinary and intersectional perspective, the multi-disciplinary project applied qualitative methods of data collection (walk-and-talk interviews, video diaries, and workshops) to gather the lived experiences of teenage girls living in Copenhagen. Distinguishing itself as a pioneering initiative, the project not only identifies challenges but actively seeks solutions that meet diverse needs.

As a result, the team has created two open-source guides containing principles for design as well as methodology surrounding participation processes for designing urban spaces with the well-being of teenage girls in mind.

The process guide focuses on the project’s approach, research design, and methodology, while the design guide presents design proposals informed by the study. The two publications can be read separately or together, with the second building upon the first.

Find the process guide here and the design guide here.

The user-centric methodology and dedication to lived experiences make it a valuable addition to the field of urban design and a significant step in the creation of inclusive cities. “Urban Minded” is not a one-size solution to the many challenges that girls and young women face, but a catalyst to design spaces with their nuanced perspectives in mind, empowering them and indicating to them that their needs are not secondary within the urban sphere.

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About Henning Larsen

Henning Larsen is an international studio for architecture, landscape, and urbanism with design hubs in Copenhagen, New York, Singapore, Berlin, and Oslo. Central to their design philosophy lies the interplay of light and nature. Bringing joy to those who occupy their spaces by shaping the conditions for human interaction. Henning Larsen works at the nexus of creativity and experimentation, always looking to the lasting impact on communities and their environments.

Drawing on a Scandinavian ethos, Henning Larsen develop context-driven, sustainable designs that provide lasting value to users, local communities, and cities. Henning Larsen aims to contribute social spaces that engage people and inspire human interaction. Approaching clients with curiosity and a desire to listen, inspire, collaborate, and innovate.

Henning Larsen’s distinctive portfolio has received some of the highest honours in the profession, including the Architecture Laureate of the Premium Imperiale, The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award, and the European Architect of the Year Award, 2019.