Project information
Novo Nordisk A/S, Guy’s & St Thomas

We are interested in creating the right conditions for people to not only access the food they need but to invite them to use their neighborhood actively.

Sophia Schuff
Team Director at Gehl
Societal Challenge

Food security is the backbone of a healthy community

The general health of a population rests on food security. It is broadly understood that reduced access to fresh ingredients or prepared meals is a leading cause of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and more. Historically, the picture of a community’s food security was based on one’s economic means and distance from home to the grocery store.

Today, an intricate system of disinvestment in public realm quality, dwindling social programs, inefficient distribution systems, social isolation, broken mobility networks, and a lack of affordable housing constitute the social and cultural determinants of health.

Client Challenge

Meeting communities where they are

Foodscapes refocus the picture of community health towards the ways in which the built environment limits food access.

Gehl partnered with Novo Nordisk and collaborated with local organizations in five CCD cities to analyze and identify how public space, food places, and public life intersect to create a neighborhood’s unique foodscape conditions, in an effort to improve poor health outcomes.

Organizational Change

We found the experience so rewarding that we plan to use Community Foodscapes Assessments as a component of all our future place-based work.

Jamiliyah (Jay) Foster, Director, Ending Hunger for Good / Philabundance
The Impact

Interventions that make the healthy choice, the easy choice

By examining the role of the built environment and community in shaping a neighborhood’s foodscape, Gehl supported clients in creating actionable solutions to improve access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food for vulnerable groups and in disinvested communities.
By addressing food insecurity with a cross-cultural approach, Gehl created a Foodscapes framework and toolkit that could be scaled-up and applied to other communities with similar contexts. The framework uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to understand the lived experience of accessing healthy foods.

Gehl’s comprehensive, people-first methodology ensured that solutions were specific to local conditions, shifting communities with different needs from lack of access and undernourishment to healthful routines. From local to global action, Gehl is helping cities find innovative ways to invest in people, programs and policies that foster resilient food systems, equitable access to good food and an enhanced quality of life.

Video CCD Case Video Lisbon_Impact - RF26 (3:10)

In a neighborhood with a rate of 52% childhood obesity, Gehl worked with local youth to learn the cause. After surveying food behavior, and hearing stories it was revealed that the kids in South London use fast food restaurants as social meeting places.

Senior Designer, Olivia Flynn, addresses audience at a Cities Changing Diabetes Portugal launch event in Lisbon.

Local residents visit the Shifting Urban Diets pilot and taste herbs from the edible garden in Nørrebro, Copenhagen.

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Want to know more about this project?

Partner & Managing Director Gulf Region, Chief Innovation Officer
Jeff Risom
Team Director European Foundations & Philanthropic Organizations
Sophia Schuff
Our services

Delivering impact through a multidisciplinary approach

Urban Strategy

Urban Strategy is the foundation upon which form, function and behaviour are created. Our holistic approach always starts with asking what life should exist in place, what spaces invite for that life, and what buildings and facilities support this. People and life first, always.

Public Life Data

Public Life Data, the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative information about how people use and engage with public spaces, uncovers the true picture of how design impacts behavior. Our teams use this collected analysis to develop strategies and plans that foster more equitable, healthy and climate-positive lifestyles.