Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments (WISE)

WISE builds on fifteen years' research into how the built environment (at all scales from buildings to whole cities) affects the wellbeing, mental health and quality of life of residents and other users. The unit focuses on the social aspects of sustainability. Several large projects have been undertaken for funding organisations including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Wellcome Trust, Department of Health and the Housing Corporation. Consultancy work has also been conducted for practitioners in the fields of development, housing and health care. The unit attaches particular importance to cross-disciplinary working, generation of relevant, practical guidance and wide dissemination to professional and user groups (through books, papers, workshops, leaflets and design checklists). The unit is one of three academic research centres forming the EPSRC EQUAL (Extending Quality Life) I’DGO (Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors) Consortium.

Research expertise

  • Health and wellbeing and the built environment
  • Social sustainability and the built environment
  • Age-friendly urban and architectural design
  • Neighbourhoods for Life
  • Design for dementia
  • Inclusive design
  • Built environment rating, recording and measuring for example, the unit has developed the BESSC (Built Environment Site Survey Checklist)


4th November 2010, 1.00pm-2.00pm, Seminar: Where have all the flowers gone? Investigating the influence of gardens and other residential outdoor space on older people's wellbeing, Dr Lynne Mitchell.

Recent/Current research activity

Current research projects

  • CityForm-India: achieving sustainable urban development in India's rapidly growing cities, with Prof. Elizabeth Burton, University of Warwick, Funded by: EPSRC, see, Project Start Date: 01/01/2010 Project End Date: 31/07/2012
  • EPSRC EQUAL Consortium entitled I’DGO TOO (Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors). Second phase of research on designing the outdoor environment to maximise the wellbeing of older people. The Consortium includes OPENSpace at Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot-Watt University, and SURFACE at Salford University. For this project, the WISE team are investigating how private residential outdoor space (gardens etc.) should be designed and delivered to optimise the wellbeing of older people (total value £1.5 million; min. £418,000 to WISE; 2007-2011). See
  • MRC Lifelong Health and Wellbeing network grant entitled COGWORKS: The Cognitive Health and Wellbeing Hub. The aim of this network is to identify gaps in knowledge and develop research proposals on healthy cognitive ageing. Elizabeth Burton and Karim Hadjri are leading on the built environment theme – they aim to explore how the built environment can contribute to healthy cognitive ageing and to improving the wellbeing of people with cognitive impairment (total value £49,992; led by Dr Karim Hadjri at Queens University Belfast; 2009-2010). See
  • EPSRC CityForm-India network grant. The aim of this network is to extend existing knowledge about urban social sustainability in rapidly growing cities in India (total value £71,605; 2009-2011). See
  • NHS Service Delivery and Organisation R&D Programme funded project on Staff Morale in Mental Health In-Patient Care. Elizabeth Burton’s role (as Co-Investigator) is to investigate the role of ward design characteristics in influencing staff morale (total value £296,999; led by Sonia Johnson at UCL; 2006-2010).

Recent research projects

  • NHS Estates funded research on Designing to Optimise Mood in Care Homes for Older People (total value £65,000; £32,000 to WISE; 2004-2005), carried out jointly with the Medical School, University of Warwick. A findings leaflet including design recommendations is available (email Elizabeth Burton at
  • EPSRC EQUAL Consortium entitled I’DGO (Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors). First phase of Consortium described above (total value £560,000; £182,000 to WISE; 2003-2006). See


Research Staff

Prof Elizabeth Burton, Director of WISE

Dr Lynne Mitchell, Senior Research Fellow

Amanda Griffin, Postgraduate Researcher

video i

A short film about our project. Click the image above to watch it (5:30mins)

Download the latest IoH Update 
Issue 15(PDF Document)

Related Links:


The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health