OPENspace Research Seminar – Prof. Simon Bell

This is a recording from OPENspace Research Seminar ( by Prof. Simon Bell, titled “Introducing the BlueHealth Toolbox: Linking environment, climate and health”. It was run in-person and online on Tuesday 26th September 2023, 13:00-14:00 at Edinburgh College of Art and then repurposed as an OER under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.

Seminar Title: Introducing the BlueHealth Toolbox: Linking environment, climate and health

In this seminar, OPENspace Co-Director Prof Simon Bell will introduce the BlueHealth Toolbox: a validated, tested and free resource for urban planners and designers to use when working on new blue space projects. Having access to quality blue environments can benefit public health and wellbeing. The BlueHealth Toolbox has been created to help maximise these benefits while protecting the environment.

The toolbox is particularly useful for conducting before and after assessments of a blue space, so that the success of a project can be evaluated. By collecting information about places and the people using or affected by them, blue space assessments provide evidence to enhance urban planning and design. This can help to tackle public health challenges linked to disease, mental health and climate change.

The BlueHealth Toolbox was created as part of the EU Horizon 2020-funded BlueHealth project – a pan-European research initiative that investigated the links between urban blue spaces, climate and health.

Speaker: Prof Simon Bell is a forester-turned-landscape architect. He is part-time Co-director of OPENspace and Chair professor in Landscape and Wellbeing at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). He is also Chair professor of landscape architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, in Tartu, Estonia. He is interested in aspects of the wider landscape, such as forests, rural and wild landscapes as well as the peri-urban zone. This includes planning and design aspects, forest landscape aesthetics, urban forestry, outdoor recreation and the health benefits of exposure to green and blue environments. Simon was educated at The University of Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University), the University of Edinburgh and took his doctorate at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. Before academia Simon worked for 20 years for the Forestry Commission, ending his time there as Chief Landscape Architect. In his earlier career he carried out consultancy work, mainly designing forests and providing training courses for private and NGO clients in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and elsewhere. Simon’s research interests have focused on issues arising in the changing landscapes of post-Communist Eastern Europe, especially the Baltic States. Recent projects include a Cost Action on Urban Allotment Gardening, a project examining the modernist reinvention of the rural landscape (Modscapes) and work on the relationship of water environments (blue spaces) on health and wellbeing (BlueHealth). Between 2012 and 2018 Simon served as President of the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS). This body represents the interest of landscape architecture educators and researchers, holds a prestigious annual conference, presents awards for teaching and research and owns the Journal of Landscape Architecture.


Other recordings from the seminar series can also be found from

Our posts on other seminars from the series 2023-24 can be found here:

OPENspace Research Seminar – Dr Anna Wilczyńska and Dr Oleksandr Karasov

OPENspace Research Seminar – Iain Scott

OPENspace Research Seminar – Fiona Nevzati



Header: Screenshot from the video.