In 2006, Terry Huang, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, proposed a completely new approach to combating childhood obesity: Architecture. In 2009, the Buckingham County, VA school community decided to do something different about the future of their youngest learners: prioritize health and design to deliver a cutting-edge, holistic learning environment for students and teachers.
In collaboration with public health researchers, the VMDO team co-authored healthy eating and physical activity design guidelines (HEDG and PADG) as an antidote to the childhood obesity epidemic (published, respectively by the CDC in 2012 and PLOS ONE in 2015). These replicable design guidelines provide research-based strategies for school planners, architects, and educators to use in promoting healthy eating and physical activity as school-based obesity prevention.
This design-research collaboration has yielded a healthy, LEED Gold school that is contributing evidence towards our collective understanding of the intimate connections between architecture, health, learning environments, and academic success.