Urban Design Research Papers

The Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health is a new open-access, peer-reviewed online journal exploring the links between urban design and mental health. This journal aims to share interesting ideas and evidence-based practical recommendations across the disciplines to inspire research where there are gaps, to bring new perspectives, and to help drive implementation of good ideas on the ground. Academics of all disciplines, as well as architects, urban planners, geographers, engineers, developers and people working in any other relevant disciplines are invited to contribute.
What does the Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health publish?

We publish original research papers, research summaries, analysis, editorials/op-eds, and case studies with a specific focus on the links between urban design and mental health. We are particularly interested in research with clear practical applications, and interesting ideas and case studies.
Formats for submission

All types of submission
  • We value clear, succinct writing that avoids specialist jargon and is accessible to people who work in a wide range of disciplines.
  • Please submit a MS Word file.
  • Please include a front page including:
    • proposed title
    • full names and affiliations of all authors
    • corresponding email address 
    • Twitter details for authors to facilitate discussion of your paper on social media
  • All submissions should be fully referenced as appropriate with bracketed numbers throughout the text with references in APA format.
  • Please include at least one relevant photograph, illustration, or other graphic (with description and any attributions). 
  • If ethics approval is relevant, details should be included.
  • Please declare any funding and conflicts of interest.
  • Please avoid specialist jargon to ensure that the papers are accessible to all.
  • Currently this journal is published in English only, though we want to publish papers from a wide range of countries; if English is not your first language, please submit as best you can and we will help with editing.

Research papers
  • Up to 4,000 words (excluding references), with a specific focus on the links between urban design and mental health.
  • Please include the following sections:
    • Abstract (200 words)
    • Summary of practical implications for those working in urban design and mental health (under 80 words)
    • Introduction
    • Methods
    • Results
    • Discussion
    • References

City case studies - conduct an assessment of a selected city's approach to urban design for mental health
  • 2,500 - 6,000 words
  • Select a city and use our research protocol to summarise the rationale, principles and prioritisation of urban design for mental health in your city of choice. Identify particular approaches your city takes, and extract opportunities for your city, plus any lessons for other cities.
  • To proceed, view City Case Study Methods and Protocol.

Research summaries and Reviews
  • Up to 4,000 words (excluding references) with a specific aspect of the links between urban design and mental health.
  • No specific format required, but please include a short Summary of Practical Implications for those working in urban design/mental health.

Analysis and Op-eds
  • 1,200-2,000 words.
  • Please write in essay style, focusing on a specific topic pertaining to an aspect of urban design and mental health.

Project case studies - urban projects designed with an intention of promoting mental health
  • Up to 1,200 words.
  • Please use whatever format works best for the project you are describing. Please focus on the relevance of the project for mental health, including the ideas behind the project and any feedback.
  • Please include photographs with appropriate attributions.


As an attempt to critically unfold and reconcile the mingled public/intimate frameworks in architecture we propose the intimate-extimacy relationship to turn the breach into a bridge, since they are not reducible to a dialectical... more

As an attempt to critically unfold and reconcile the mingled public/intimate frameworks in architecture we propose the intimate-extimacy relationship to turn the breach into a bridge, since they are not reducible to a dialectical synthesis, and do not act as opposites but work as a continuous differing from the conventional public/private antagonism.
Slavoj Žižek describes Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece as an opportunity for bridging the parallax gap through “the staging of an architectural antagonism”: is Norman not split between the two houses, the modern horizontal motel and the vertical Gothic mother’s house, forever running between the two, never finding a proper place of his own?” (Žižek, 2009). We offer a dramatic traversing of the public/intimate gap, as a critical short-circuiting between the two apparently distant aspects, the internal closeness, intimate convolutions of the disciplinary object with the open common good of the social, public ingenuousness.
Extimacy, the term coined by Jacques Lacan extimité from the term intimité which is a superlative of the Latin positive adjective intra or within, its comparative interior or deeper than, and superlative intimus or deeper of all, innermost. In the same manner extimacy is not the contrary of intimacy and it problematizes the apparent oppositions between inner and outer, between container and content. As Jacques-Alain Miller proposes, “it is necessary in order to escape the common ravings about a psychism supposedly located in a bipartition between interior and exterior. (…) The exterior is present in the interior. The most interior—this is how the dictionary defines “intimate” (l’intime)—has, in the analytic experience, a quality of exteriority” (Miller, 2008).
At the inner-outer surpassed deadlock, internal and external architectural worlds have no more consequential meaning for its micro-territorial extimacy, revealing a namely public intimacy. By losing contrast they become reversible: the extime refers now to the innermost, the intimate, which is found on the outside—as the culture determining the subject, referring to a topology that vacillates between interior and exterior.
Architectural extimacy, being very intimate and familiar becomes radically strange. Here being intimate turns into the most distant and un-localized… the familiarly unknown. For Lacan, the inner-center of the subject is out, it is ex-centric. The Other as "something strange to me, although it is in my heart" (Lacan, 1959-1960) becomes a programmatic architectural engine, revealing and undertaking the shock of the overwhelming Real—the primordial object, as the mysterious something of the ordinary object where the sublime dimension shines through it.

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