Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a global health challenge and physical environment factors play a material role in NCDs. The residential street is a building block of the physical environment and has been identified a place to integrate health and placemaking. However disciplinary differences between the two disciplines of street design and public health frustrate this.
Street design is by nature interdisciplinary and beyond the control of one sub-group of designers. Some design and placemaking practitioners seek new frameworks for interdisciplinary understanding: however this article explores why such frameworks cannot emerge with validity across disciplines without an underlying position toward evidence and knowledge. This challenge is explored through epistemology; methods; and values in practice. Taking a social-ecologic systems perspective a new interdisciplinary understanding is proposed to integrate public health and street design at each of these levels.
Both street design and public health share, to some degree, values of promoting population health and have the potential to do so but this potential is not being realised. Opening interdisciplinary understanding between the two disciplines may reveal new ways to support population health. Where current disciplinary silos prevent investigation of these issues then both disciplines risk acting unethically measured against the benchmark of the values stated in their professional codes of conduct.