Actions on urban health enhancement in the Arctic: Salutogenic Planning concept


  • Emilia Tuulikki Rönkkö University of Oulu, School of Architecture


Healthy urban planning, salutogenic planning concept, northern settlements, sustainability


The prevailing paradigm of environmental health research has emphazised pathogenesis and disease prevention, instead of salutogenic mechanisms of health promotion. Looking at the historical background of the interconnections between public health and urban planning since the 19th century, it can be concluded that the practical measures of environmental health concerns have been underpinned by preventive medicine and probabilities of exposure, focusing on screening health risks and fighting epidemics in urban areas. The only major difference today is that the newly emerged healthy urban planning initiatives are triggered by the global epidemics of non-commutable diseases caused by lifestyle and dietary factors. While many of the recent healthy urban planning initiatives and academic studies have originated from the USA or in the institutional sphere of the World Health Organization, the aim of this article is to add a new dimension to this discussion. The article explicates in detail the environmental mechanisms affecting healthiness and elaborates theoretical perspectives and principles of salutogenic planning. The salutogenic model for health promotion is founded on the theoretical basis developed by sociologist Aaron Antonovsky (1996). He has suggested, that the mechanisms generating health and wellbeing are firmly linked to the general resistance recourses and sense of coherense of individuals and societies. The article suggest that understanding better the salutogenesis of healthy communities, possibilities could open to study their adaptation capacity within the transformation processes of the changing North. Shortcomings in the scientific evidence on how to build healthier environments are demonstrated – and noted that clear examples on healthy planning practices in cold climate are missing.1 Holistic approaches are required, which pay attention to the large number of environmental aspects related to individual and population health and wellbeing in the Arctic areas while seeking sustainable planning solutions in fragile natural environments. The article reveals an undoubted need for further research on building and planning practises which enhance health, social inclusion, resilience and sustainability of northern communities.


1 Reacting to this lack of knowledge, a research initiative called "Health on Thin Ice – urban planning for good health in cold climate" has been launched in 2013 as a Nordic cooperative between University of Oulu, Finland, Luleå university of Technology, Sweden, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.




How to Cite

Rönkkö, E. T. (2014). Actions on urban health enhancement in the Arctic: Salutogenic Planning concept. Proceedings of the Annual Architectural Research Symposium in Finland, 134–147. Retrieved from