Dakar, Abidjan, Brazzaville, Accra, and Nairobi were devised on the basis of a common idea of public health. Colonial urban planning was premised on technical considerations such as water drainage, streets built in the prevailing winds to keep away insects, or large well-ventilated residences, all of which were meant to maintain urban residents (or rather very limited sections among them) in good health. Many aspects of such health-oriented planning were not the exclusive invention of colonial agents, but in fact resumed earlier processes of construction in pre-colonial cities. Urban planning and public health have been linked since the creation of cities, and the hygienist aspirations of the nineteenth century revived this relationship in Europe. In the contemporary urban world, the ability of urban planning to affect the population‘s health has been neglected in ongoing debates. Instead, the emphasis has been on densification, economic development, and infrastructures that is sustainable or “smart”. Spatial planning has replaced urban planning without bringing public health back to the centre of the debate and individuals are progressively excluded from discussions.

Within this special issue, we wish to rethink public health in connection with urban development. From the spatial impact of healthcare systems, to the understanding of the complex links between public health and urban agriculture, through the place of vulnerable people in African cities, our special issue aims at identifying and exploring diverse topics addressing innovation in public health and urban planning.

Submitted articles should reflect the evident link between public health and urban planning or urban development, following a historical or contemporary perspective.


  • Urbanism
  • Urban planning
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Health data
  • Public health
  • Epidemiology
  • History

Key dates
Call for papers:                                                 30 June 2018
Deadline for abstracts (1 - 2 pages):            15 September 2018
Acceptance notice                                           15 October 2018
Deadline for articles:                                      15 January 2019
Publication:                                                       From 15Mai 2019


  • Professor Julia Tischler (University of Basel)
  • Dr Jérôme Chenal (École Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne)

Contact for questions: [email protected] or [email protected]