Healthy Liveable Cities Lab Vision and Goal Statements


Healthy and sustainable cities for all


Transforming cities through evidence







About Our Group

Creating healthy, liveable and sustainable cities is a major challenge in the face of population growth, social inequalities, traffic congestion, increases in non-communicable diseases and climate change. Planning and delivering better cities are local, national and global priorities.

Healthy and liveable neighbourhoods provide the basis for social equity, harmony, economic resilience and environmental and social sustainability. Our research aims to not only contribute to academic scholarship, but to inform policies and practices to create healthy and sustainable cities.

Bringing together a multidisciplinary research team, this program examines the influence of city design and planning on health and wellbeing.

Our research is developed in partnership with stakeholders to inform best practice policy and planning by simulating, modelling and assessing the health impact of planning and transport interventions aimed at creating healthy and sustainable cities.

Our multidisciplinary team are drawn from a range of disciplines including architecture, behavioural science, econometrics, geography, geospatial and computer science, health economics, public health, social epidemiology, sociology, sociology ecology and transport and urban planning. We use a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods including geospatial analyses, agent-based modelling, policy analysis and economic evaluation.

Our priority areas are to:

  • explore the nexus between place, health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on spatial disadvantage, by developing health-related spatial indicators locally, nationally and globally,
  • simulate, model and assess the health impacts of local and state planning policies and interventions, including transport, land use and health impact,
  • influence future policies to improve population health outcomes.

We have a strong focus on research translation and engagement, collaborating with communities, government, non-government organisations and the private sector in health, urban planning, housing and transport.

We are members of the NHMRC-funded The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (which co-funded our Creating Liveable Cities in Australia report and Australian Urban Observatory); and are currently working with Cambridge University on the JIBE project. From 2014-2020, we led the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy, Liveable Communities and were collaborators on the Clean Air and Urban Landscape Hub supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (which also co-funded our Creating Liveable Cities in Australia report).

The HLCL is led by a group of RMIT researchers, Dr Belen Diomedi-Zapata, Dr Lucy Gunn and Professor Gavin Turrell.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Healthy Liveable Cities Lab acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations and the traditional owners and custodians throughout Australia. We recognise their ongoing unceded sovereignty to land and waters on which we conduct our work, and acknowledge the wisdom of their Ancestors and Elders in caring for, and protecting Country over millennia. As a group of researchers focussed on place, we are committed to supporting the protection of Country through respect and care for community, place and culture in all that we do.


Transport Health Assessment Tool for Brisbane (THAT-Brisbane)


THAT-Brisbane builds on THAT-Melbourne, a Planning Institute of Australia Award winning tool for measuring life-time health benefits from walking and cycling.

The High Life: Could apartment design policy improve residents’ health and wellbeing?


The High Life project examines the interplay between apartment design policy, the design and location of apartment buildings, and residents’ health and wellbeing outcomes in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

Developing a Pilot Victorian Urban Liveability Index

2017 (ongoing)

Researchers are developing a composite indicator of urban liveability for use in policy. It has been conceptualised from a social determinants of health lens and allows for flexible assessment within and between neighbourhoods.

Understanding how local and regional accessibility are associated with active travel, and related health and economic impacts

2017 (ongoing)

This project models the physical activity and health economic impacts of the ease of walking and cycling to essential destinations within neighbourhoods and commuting in Melbourne.

NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy, Liveable Communities


The Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy, Liveable and Equitable Communities investigates cost-effective built environment interventions to create healthy, liveable and equitable communities in Australia

The National Liveability Study

2017 (ongoing)

This project has developed a set of liveability indicators for alcohol, food, public open space, transport, walkability, affordable housing and access to employment which are now being calculated and mapped for Australian major cities.

Creating Liveable Cities in Australia

2017 (ongoing)

Creating Liveable Cities in Australia is the first “baseline” measure of liveability in Australia’s state and territory capitals.

Early delivery of equitable and healthy transport options in new suburbs


The project will produce evidence and tools to assist both the public and private sectors provide transport options to residents of Melbourne’s new suburbs as soon as they move in.

Optimising apartment design policy to equitably enhance mental health

2018 (ongoing)

This study will generate evidence on the key health enhancing design requirements that should be entrenched in the new Design WA Apartment Design Guidelines.

Creating Liveable Cities in Australia – Scorecards

2018 (ongoing)

A scorecard and priority recommendations for Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane developed using results from the 'Creating Liveable Cities in Australia' (2017) report.

Living liveable: The lived experiences of life on the urban fringe


“Living Liveable”, is a short documentary film showcasing the lived experiences of residents in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

Benchmarking, monitoring, modelling and valuing the healthy liveable city


Along with our Department of Health and South Australia Health partners, this project builds on our national liveability indicator work to improve understandings of the relationship between built environments, daily activities and travel choices.

Latest Healthy Liveable Cities Lab Research


Click here to review the latest in healthy cities research.

HABITAT: A study of how areas in Brisbane influence health and activity


Designing cities to promote health and well-being: the HABITAT multilevel longitudinal study of Brisbane (Australia) neighbourhoods and their ‘baby boomer’ residents.

Joining Impact models of transport with spatial measures of the Built Environment (JIBE)


Bringing together Australian and UK urban experts to virtually model and test the benefits of transport planning in creating healthier and sustainable cities across both countries.

Global Healthy and Sustainable City-Indicators Collaboration

2018 (ongoing)

Good city planning produces co-benefits for individual and planetary health and wellbeing

Key People

Lead researchers

Dr Belen Zapata-Diomedi

Dr Belen Zapata-Diomedi

Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Lucy Gunn

Dr Lucy Gunn

Senior Research Fellow

Professor Gavin Turrell

Professor Gavin Turrell


Key Researchers

Higher Degree Research Students

Professional Staff

Honorary & Associate Staff

Policy and Practice Advisory Group

Related Content

News & Blog


Two new projects to help promote active transport and understand healthy ageing

08 March 2023

Two new projects led by Dr Lucy Gunn aim to improve our health by understanding the health impacts of our neighbourhoods.


Australian cities out of step on walkability, transport: study

13 May 2022

A new series, part of the Global Healthy and Sustainable City-Indicators Collaboration and led by Distinguished Professor Billie-Giles Corti, has been published in The Lancet Global Health. The ‘Urban Design, Transport and Health Series 2’ assesses city planning policies and the urban design and transport features of 25 cities across Australasia, Asia, Europe, USA, Central […]


THAT-Melbourne wins PIA Victoria Award for Excellence in Planning Research

15 December 2021

Two projects out of the Centre for Urban Research were recognised at last week’s 2021 PIA Victoria Awards for Planning Excellence.


Walk or drive? New tool shows the health effects of your travel choices

21 April 2021

RMIT researchers and the Victorian Department of Transport launch a new digital tool to measure the health impacts of replacing car trips with walking and cycling trips for Melburnians.


Bringing the buzz back to Melbourne: what’s it going to take?

15 March 2021

Melbourne is ready for business and to entice Victorians to stay and play in metropolitan Melbourne the State Government is releasing travel vouchers. But is this enough to revitalise the city?


RMIT urban academic wins 2020 Sir James Barrett Memorial Medal

19 November 2020

Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti has been awarded the 2020 Sir James Barrett Memorial Medal for her outstanding contributions to developing healthy, sustainable and liveable communities.


Aged care isn’t working, but we can create neighbourhoods to support healthy ageing in place

29 October 2020

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed issues and inequities across society. How we plan for ageing populations and older people is one critical issue that has been neglected for decades.


How can we better prepare suburban Melbourne for climate change?

24 September 2020

Climate change presents critical challenges for future development, sustainability and resilience across Melbourne. Here, our experts offer insights on how we can better prepare our outer suburbs.


New map shows Melbourne’s parks will struggle in next stage of lockdown

22 September 2020

Looking forward to catching up with friends in a park as lockdown eases? Unfortunately, so is everyone else – and we’re going to need more space, finds new RMIT research.


Ten ways RMIT research is helping to build a more sustainable future

21 September 2020

From turning back the emissions clock to building more durable roads from old tyres, RMIT researchers are tackling today’s biggest challenges and developing solutions for a more sustainable world.


New smart tool to step up walkability in rural Australia

10 August 2020

New research aims to strengthen walkability in rural and regional areas, delivering an innovative smart online tool to support and encourage Australians to get active.


A focus on liveability: What can we learn from Barcelona’s superblocks?

31 July 2020

With its high population density and compact built environment, the Catalan capital is employing nature-based solutions to tackle typical urban challenges and improve the life of its inhabitants.


Past Events

The impacts of active transport: A multi-disciplinary research and practice field (Second Session)

4 June 2020, 1:00AM-4:30AM

Bringing together the international research and practitioner community in transport impact assessment

Past Events

The impacts of active transport: A multi-disciplinary research and practice field (First Session)

3 June 2020, 5:00PM-8:30PM

Bringing together the international research and practitioner community in transport impact assessment

Past Events

Planning Healthy Cities: A Conversation with Planners, Scholars & Industry

14 August 2019, 4:30PM-7:00PM

How can we deliver improved health outcomes through best practice urban planning processes and policies?

Past Events

Short/Single Course: Integrating Health and Planning

10 July 2019, 9:00AM-5:00PM

Healthy Liveable Cities is offering an exciting new short course ‘Integrating Health and Planning’ in July 2019

Past Events

ABM Hack: an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional hackathon for large-scale urban simulation

1 February 2019, 9:30AM-4:30PM

The session aims to draw on the collective knowledge of participants to build models of cycling behaviour into the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM).  

Past Events

The Unsettling Outdoors: Studying environmental estrangement in everyday life

5 February 2019, 12:00PM-1:00PM

Associate Professor of Human Geography Russell Hitchings from University College London discusses how the idea and the experience of outdoor environments can unsettle patterns of everyday life.

Past Events

Creating liveable cities in Australia: Launch of the Melbourne Scorecard

10 September 2018, 5:30PM-7:30PM

Join us for this informal networking event hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia for the presentation of  A Scorecard and Priority Recommendations for Melbourne – a new report measuring Melbourne’s true liveability progress. 

Past Events

Public participatory GIS mapping methods

11 July 2018, 12:00PM-1:00PM

In the seminar, guest speaker Tiina Laatikainen, MSc, Doctoral Student at Aalto University, Finland, will introduce the SoftGIS method and its various research as well as planning practice applications.