Report On Building Environment Of Avondale Assessment Answer
The built environment is a vital feature in a community or living space. It involves every physical part of where we all survive and work (e.g., homes, buildings, streets, open spaces, and infrastructure). As the description is given here, the built environment involves the physical structures engineered and designed by the individual, places in which individual work, exist, play, and socialize. The built environment influences the level of physical activity of individuals. It is increasingly acknowledged that the place and space affect an individual's health and wellbeing and that human course of actions so that lifestyle or health status can be improved are most likely to be influenced by the factors of the environment and socio-economic. The built environment involves various health determinants, contains housing, neighbourhood situation, and transport pathways, everything which shapes the social, financial, and environmental situation on which healthy health is based. In urban areas, the imaginative integration of built and natural characteristics can help form unique environments that are interesting enough for an individual to direct various and healthy lives (GCPH, 2013).
The poor built environment leads to ill health outcomes like obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, and a few forms of carcinoma. At present, two-thirds of Americans are overweight (CDC, 2011) approximately. This report consists of a discussion on the built environment of Avondale, a neighbourhood area of Birmingham. The region around two elementary schools is assessed for the sake of this current study.
DEMOGRAPHIC AND HISTORICAL INFORMATION OF THE COMMUNITY
Birmingham was established in 1871, and its population was more than 4,000 in 1910. Birmingham had destined to hit its economic heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in the nation's greatest commercial and residential architecture period. Most of the city's hottest housing neighbourhoods at present—involving Highland Park, Forest Park/South Avondale, and Crestwood North—are studded with fine-looking houses manufactured in the 1930s, 1920s, and still earlier. Around 60 % of residential in Birmingham was built-up before 1970 (Velasco, 2019).
Avondale is a neighbourhood located in Birmingham, Alabama. "Avondale" is three officially-designated neighbourhoods: North Avondale, East Avondale, and the South Avondale community that is a fraction of the South Avondale neighbourhood (Velasco, 2019).
Avondale's city was formed in 1887 by the Avondale Land Company, owned by Benjamin F. Roden, Martin Sumner, and William Morris. They bought land from King, specifically 40 rugged acres around the spring, stay committed as a public park. It was developed as a neighbourhood for workers nearby to the textile manufacturing firm. Avondale involves mixed demographic status. (ShawStreet, 2013).
Initially, the architecture of the city was limited. The Avondale City Hall, covering the Mayor's offices and the Avondale Board of Aldermen, was situated at Avenue South, later Birmingham Fire Station No. 10 sites. The Avondale City Park was a house to Birmingham's first zoo and rendered a beautiful gathering area. (Browne, 2007).
In the Second Industrial Revolution, Birmingham's Avondale area thrived along with the whole city. Likewise, in other industrial areas, Avondale fell into a decrease at the time of the civil rights movement. The city had poor air quality and white flight. The people did not want to visit this place altogether (Benedetti, 2018). Avondale Park reopened in early 2011, with innovative landscaping, walkways, a playground field for children, and easy access to the pavilions. Around 2012, Avondale's mining boom began along with Pub, 41st Street & Saw's Soul Kitchen. They were rapidly followed by Post Office Pies, Hotbox at Parkside and Melt, etc. Afterwards, the Satellite coffee shop and Saturn concert venue came into work (Edgemon, 2018).
Avondale Brewing business focused its dedication on revitalizing the neighbourhood and reviving Avondale's legacy. Commencing from the building the brewery, which at varied times involved pharmacy, saloon, and brothel house. They use the local characters of areas and icons of history to brand their items (Benedetti, 2018).
In 2012, with Saw's Soul Kitchen and Avondale Brewing introduction, 41st Street started to thrive. It was found to be a largely vacant street approx 70 per cent vacant six or seven years ago. At present, it reaches around 5 per cent vacancy. Establishments of food, beverage, and entertainment make up the maximum of businesses lining the avenue historically.
The Avondale district has recently reemerged as a hotspot, executed by both the private and public sectors. As per president and CEO of REV Birmingham, David Fleming, the area's easy access to downtown, the City Park, and infrastructure for the main street prepared Avondale as an interesting area for various developers (Benedetti, 2018).
Avondale currently draws many people ranging from the telephone, local government, blue-collar employees, and workers (Benedetti, 2018). The population in the city is also mixed, although the major population is from the United States. English is commonly spoken by Avondale neighbourhood and around 97.3% of households. Few people (2.1%) also speak Spanish. Moreover, several people of African ancestry 3.4%, and residents reported Irish roots (3.2%), and few residents are also of German ancestry 2.9%, next to some English ancestry residents 2.7%, with others (Neighborhoodscout, 2020).
One worth mentioning data is about poor children. 99.0% of children live in poverty, which is less than the Avondale neighbourhood children's poverty, i.e., 74.1%. (Neighborhood Scout, 2020).
ECONOMIC STATUS OF THE PEOPLE AND COMMUNITY
The past decade has witnessed immense development in commercial and residential areas. The number of restaurants in the commercial corridor has doubled, in three short years, (Edgemon, 2018). The price of Avondale median real estate is $337,536, which is costly than 93.8% of Alabama's neighbourhoods and 67.5% of the neighbourhoods in U.S country. Currently, in Avondale, the average rental price is $1,173. The real estate of Avondale is primarily formed of small (studio to two bedrooms) to medium-sized (three or four bedrooms) apartment and single-family houses (Neighborhoodscout, 2020).
Apartments or houses which are vacant are a major fact of life in Avondale. Currently, the vacancy rate in real estate is 21.9%, which is quite higher (Neighborhoodscout, 2020).
In the Avondale neighbourhood, 35.9% of the population is working in management, executive, and professionals. The second important working group in this neighbourhood is service jobs and sales. Other residents (16.8%) are working in a clerical, assistant, and tech support occupation and 15.1% in occupations of manufacturing and labourer (Neighborhoodscout, 2020).
BUILT ENVIRONMENT ASSESSMENT
The assessment and generations of data are required to develop well-resourced neighbourhoods. The urban developing bodies use various tools to obtain information on several aspects of the built environment and find differences among areas. Various means like GIS mapping, asset mapping, and local surveys can help generate a complete picture of the community's strengths and needs. These assessments can widely assist in design for better investment and decision-making. Despite the tools engagement among local people involving a conversation related to people's aspirations for the neighbourhood and the use of public spaces might be of great help (GCPH, 2013).
Henceforth in this study, I have selected two assessment tools, namely PhotoVoice and Drones. Photovoice is a process in which people use videos, photos to depict their environment and culture. This tool is usually used by deprived people like the poor, with a language barrier or facing other inequalities (Rabinowitz, 2020). Another tool selected for this study is Drone. The drones also help in capturing pictures of the various places in the city. The policymakers and governments can use these pictures to improvise and make the required changes. These tools help gain a clear picture of various localities, thus improving living conditions by reaching the policymakers.
The assessment of the area near two elementary schools was conducted. The schools are Avondale Elementary School and Hayes K-8 School. Hayes K-8 has a modern campus built on the site of the former C.W. Hayes High School. It is located on 43rd Street North. The school is located near the airport highway; hence, the nearby area roads are wide and smooth. The roads are labelled, the arrows for the turn are marked, and zebra crossing is also found at some places. The airport highway is well labelled. The cars' parking place is there, although cars are parked on the sides of the roads as well. Bicycle lane and parking are also not visible. The roads are clean, but garbage and litter bins are not visible. Any billboards are not found.
Avondale School was built in 1923 for grades K-5. It is located in Forest Park. Hence, this school has more greenery around it. The original structure included classrooms, a cafeteria, a gym, and an auditorium. Avondale was renovated in 2001-2002. It is situated in Eighth Court South. The roads are smooth, but they are not labelled for crossroads or turns. There is no parking place for cars or bicycle. The litter bins are missing, but the roads are clean. Any billboard is not visible.
The assessment of the nearby area depicted a mixed landscape and a build environment. The area around the school is full of greenery and broad roads. The Avondale Elementary School enjoys a greener and beautiful forest area. The building of both schools is well maintained and full of basic amenities. Hayes K-8 School has more proper roads around it.
Figure: Avondale Park and the Amphitheatre
(Source: Edgemon, 2018)
The nearby area of Avondale city is developed. The South Avondale consists of two important commercial districts. Secondly, South Avondale is anchored on and near 41st Street South with Avondale Brewing Co. and an increasing group of entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants. The Main Street of the city, like 41st street, is wide and properly maintained. The crossroads and the eating areas on the road are properly marked and labelled. The crossroads are marked in the standard way, and the zebra crossings are not visible. The turns and the cuts are clearly visible. These roads have a broad area for the pedestrian. A separate lane for bicyclists is not available throughout the city. The plantation on both the sides of the roads is not in a caged or grass square.
Figure: 41st STREET
(Source: Edgemon, 2018)
Although in some areas in South Avondale, the streets are not properly maintained. Some street walls are well fabricated with graffiti and murals. Especially in 41st street, graffiti of some Birmingham figures can be seen.
Figure: A wall in 41st Street with Graffiti
(Source: Edgemon, 2018)
The city has both types of the house, i.e., the newly constructed and the old buildings. Some old structures are torn out, but they are painted with graffiti and drawings.
Figure: A house in South Avenue with Graffiti
(Source: Edgemon, 2018)
The city has a main Avondale park and an amphitheatre for people. The park is lush green but is not properly maintained for children and the elderly. Despite these major places, other areas still need to be looked at (Velasco, 2019).
Figure: Roads in South Avondale
(Source: Edgemon, 2018)
East Avondale is a small area, and it has buildings of warehouse and housing mill dating early to the 20th century. Companies like RAM tools and Cahaba Brewing are also located here. Avondale Mills Shopping Center has several businesses, and this area has eating places like Mom's Basement and Puerto Rican restaurants. This commercial development and growth have helped median home values in East Avondale double over the past few years (Velasco, 2019).
Figure: Eat in the streets in Avondale
(Source: Wexler, 2020)
In Avondale, the mode of commuting is mixed. The majority of commuters in the Avondale neighbourhood spend 15 minutes commuting single-way to perform (43.0% of working residents). Moreover, carpool with coworkers, friends, or neighbours also exists (6.7%) to get work (Neighborhoodscout, 2020).
The city enjoys uniqueness as it is self-sustaining: residential, retail, nightlife, warehouse, industrial, and office (Edgemon, 2018). The development authorities are now focusing on the development of the city. Avondale will quickly see additional townhouses and apartments to provide support to meet the demand for affordable housing near downtown Birmingham. A redesigned "complete street" will consist of landscaping, bike lanes, and lighting for the city. Sidewalks can also be broader to form room for gathering and dining space outdoor. Street parking, stormwater management, and flood improvement are also focused part of the plan.
Freshwater Land Trust and Birmingham's city are developing The Jones Valley Trail from 32nd Street South in Lakeview up to 41st Street in Avondale. Another important development is The Rotary Trail from 20th Street South to 24th Street (Edgemon, 2018). Avondale commercial districts and the city have made $2.9 million investment to re-establish Avondale Park (Velasco, 2019).
A well-planned, appropriate, resourced, and the well-linked neighbourhood has varied health benefits for the population. Current literature highlights the links between the built environment and health and comfort. A few decades ago, the built environment professionals and communities came into existence for the population betterment and promoted healthy living practices. The built environment is one of the vital determinants of health and appropriate decision-making, which can promote the people's quality of life and restricts the escalation costs of healthcare in upcoming days (CDC, 2011). As per WHO, the chief determinants of health are social, economic, physical, and individual characteristics and behaviours (WHO, 2017). The natural and built environments are significant health determinants that can influence a population's health (Barton & Grant, 2006).
There are necessities for a healthy environment, which includes land use, housing, urban development and transport, clean air, safe and sufficient water supply, healthy and nutritious food, Safe, secure and peaceful settlements, and a stable universal ecosystem that is suitable for people habitation (Dovjak & Kukec, 2019).
The present study suggests that-
•A healthy community should be less densely populated and properly managed
•It should have proper roads and traffic management
•It should not have too loud noise and polluted air
•It should have properly installed water supply and waste systems which should be adequately maintained and managed
•It should have clean and hygienic environmental conditions (Turner, 2016).
The foremost health issue is the general health impact on the population. The avoidance of health impact in the built environment is the key activity in a single step of the plan (Erzen et al., 2010). The roads, buildings and lands should be used properly to facilitate people. A review study reported by Kalender Smajlović et al. (2019) stated that the risk of sick building syndrome was present from 41% to 87%. In 2012, Global Health Observatory data showed that 12.6 million people died due to an unhealthy environment. The data also depicts that this figure is equal to around 23% of total deaths (WHO, 2017).
A Pan-European study depicted a clear correlation between people's poor health and unhealthy buildings. More than 1.5 times, people who live in unhealthy buildings have poor health outcomes than people living in healthy buildings (Velux, 2015). The environment should be planned to consider the purpose and necessities of a particular population rather than underestimating these needs. For example, roads should be developed for cyclists. Avondale City Council is expanding and re-planning the BLVD, the cycling boulevard. Presently, the area an empty land (Scanlon, 2020). Many more such developments are imperative for the city.
The second important health policy should be targeted at Children. Children are one of the vulnerable groups. Avondale lacks behind on various forms of child wellbeing indicators. A study has demonstrated that childhood obesity has increased prevalence, as one-third of Avondale's kindergarteners are found to have over-weight or obese. The study determines obstacles to physical activity of childhood group in the Avondale's community. Parents and teachers found violence, extracurricular activities charges, and deficit organized activities as barriers to their child's physical performance. This project focused on an important step for promoting the physical activities of children in Avondale and the local community (Kottyan et al., 2014).
In a National Trust survey involving children of age between 4 and 14, researchers estimated that an average of children was going outside for play only four hours or above weekly, which is quite less than earlier generations (The Guardian, 2016). A WHO report suggests that children are more likely to have environmental dangers than healthy adults are for various causes (WHO, 2017): Thus policymakers should focus on developing communities that are children friendly and have more parks and play areas.
Thus, policies for developing parks and healthy options for children are required.
Likewise, the third vulnerable group is the elderly. Both the factors, internal and external, can enhance the vulnerability of the elderly. Environmental factors like social network deficiency, care provider dependency, loneliness, community resources deficiency, inadequate housing, unsanitary living conditions, and high-crime neighbourhood also account for adverse life effects.
In the United States, (87%) of 65 years and above have more than one chronic condition, and 67% of the population have two or above chronic illnesses (WHO, 2002). The Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) represented that and are not completely adjusted with the needs of the elderly (Börsch-Supan, 2016). Living situations prior and later retirement varies considerably throughout Europe
The policies for developing built environments following the concept of active ageing or an age-friendly environment is imperative. An age-friendly environment offers people enough protection, safety, and care when they need help (WHO, 2002). Consequently, health promotion with public awareness is key to the successful prevention of ill health effects.
PUBLIC HEALTH COMPETENCIES
In this study, the evaluation has found that the built environment and health features can be direct or indirect. With the help of direct impacts, it is often simpler to determine which population groups are at prevalence, which enables appropriate responses that can be implemented (Dovjak & Kukec, 2019).
During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, urban environments like London, Paris, New York City, and Chicago were densely populated and have characteristics of residences close to factories, animal yards, slaughterhouses, and crowded tenement houses with a small airflow or little light. The cities were plagued with epidemics of infected diseases such as congestion, pollution, lack of sunshine, and poor airflow, leading illness. Concerning these problems in the mid-nineteenth century, the public health system and rebuilding of European and North American cities ensued, to treat overcrowded areas and also unhygienic urban living conditions (Wollman et al., 2018).
Similarly, this study clarifies the theoretical and professional acknowledgement of health as the main motivator in urban planning. There are various sources like the Active Living Research Program, the Centers for Control and Prevention of diseases, and the U.S. National Physical Activity design in the USA. This literature offers a rich and grounded understanding of opportunities for implementing healthy built environments (Kent and Thompson, 2012).
There are no single set of rules for stakeholders to manage health outcomes in the built environment. The various stakeholders are urban planning professionals and local government staff, health and built environment professionals as of the public and private sectors, retailers, school boards, environmental health officers, legislators, economists, developers, families, youth, etc. (Kent and Thompson, 2012). The general conclusion from this study is that stakeholder perspectives are varied. However, the interests of all stakeholders require to be considered for healthy built environments development. Indeed, meaningful stakeholder contribution in land use decision-making has been evaluated as one means that the built environment can enhance human health and wellbeing by giving empowerment sense and inclusivity (Kent et al., 2011).
The stakeholders may use these health competencies to work for remedial actions like regeneration activity, implementing healthy planning and design principles, and promoting public engagement. It may help in decreasing inequality. Some of the important suggestions for the stakeholders are:
• Roads Management for high levels of traffic.
• Vacant Management and derelict land to decrease social capital and feelings of safety in the community.
• Development of parks and green areas. Lack of these spaces can lead to inactivity, and less social activity should be considered (Dovjak & Kukec, 2019)
• The built environment to support a physical activity like integrating land use and public transport to promote walking and cycling for transport; preserving a variety of open spaces for recreational use; designing street networks and providing infrastructure for walking and cycling space for recreation and transport too.
• Providing streets and public spaces that are safe, clean, and attractive (Kent and Thompson, 2012).
• The planning authorities should focus on ecological construction that is non-harmful for the environment and resource-efficient (SustainableBuild, 2017).
Dobbins Group is developing the Avondale Community. The community will be located on 3rd Avenue South. It contains one, two, or three-bedroom options. The Opportunity Zone Program will help this development emphasize economic and social development (Joiner, 2020). Stakeholders should come up with more options to develop Avondale city.
According to a WHO report, an Unhealthy environment accounts for death and disability. It is a global health burden and has a rate of around 22%. It is also worth mentioning that environmental factors have a burden of around 26% (WHO, 2017). Henceforth, it becomes significant to develop healthy and well-resourced communities. The built environment is an important factor for the total well being of the residents.
The impact of the built environment is well documented and studied. Despite all the literature, research on the current scenario, technological advancements, and their implications is fundamental. The planning commission and governing bodies should focus on social, climatic, economic, demographic, and environmental changes to gain more insight into these factors. The knowledge of these factors would help in planning and designing well resourced and self-sustained cities. Various assessment tools are proving vital for analyzing, evaluating, and designing the places. Legislators in the USA have been particularly proactive in pioneering the development and implementation of regulatory instruments to mandate healthy built environment interventions. The development and implementation of Texas Senate Bill 19 to mandate physical activity in the State's elementary schools is a good example (Kent and Thompson, 2012).
Thus, it is worth noticing that the development of modern cities and urbanization should be well planned. The governments should consider both long term and short term goals. The residents' feedback, needs, and prioritizing the vulnerable population like the elderly, ill, and children is essential for developing a community. The environmental assessment and health impacts would certainly help develop flexible and resilient places that can adapt in the face of change (GCPH, 2013).