UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering

Dr Helen Pineo

Dr Helen Pineo

Associate Professor

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2018

Research summary

Helen is currently investigating how health objectives are achieved in new property development internationally and specifically in a large mixed-use development in South London using action research methods. As part of this project she developed the THRIVES Framework (Towards Healthy uRbanism: InclusiVe, Equitable, Sustainable) which provides a new way to conceptualise the health and wellbeing impacts of urban design and planning, extending the scope beyond traditional thematic, spatial and temporal boundaries. She is part of an international transdisciplinary research project called Complex Systems for Sustainability and Health (CUSSH) funded by the Wellcome Trust. She is leading a strand of research on the use of scientific evidence in government policy and decision-making, focusing on health and sustainability policy in China.

Previously, Helen has investigated the development and use of metrics about the urban environment impact on health and wellbeing, including development of the evidence-based global BRE Healthy Cities Index. She undertook a three-week training course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Epidemiology and Medical Statistics to support this research. Her doctoral research explored how urban health indicators are used by urban planning policy and decision-makers. She was awarded First Prize from The Lancet for an oral presentation on this research at 2019 UK Public Health Science Conference.

Helen has created research impact through her work by collaborating with government, industry, charities and professional institutions. She received a Bartlett Innovation Fund award to co-develop training on her THRIVES Framework with an advisory group comprising representatives from Public Health England, Royal Town Planning Institute, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Town and Country Planning Association and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, among others. The online training course in 'Healthy Urbanism' was launched in July 2021 on UCL's professional learning platform, UCLeXtend. Participants have praised the course for creating 'a bridge between theory and practice' and they have said that 'the case studies throughout the module have been particularly informative and inspiring'.

In 2017, Helen worked with Southwark Council to analyse and interpret results of social research conducted in Old Kent Road Opportunity Area regarding health and place to inform planning policy. She also conducted and published a rapid evidence review on best practice in community engagement and policy innovation for healthy regeneration. She received Research Excellence Award from the Royal Town Planning Institute for this work. More recently she has co-authored reports on housing, planning and health for the World Health Organization, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Society and the Obesity Health Alliance.

Teaching summary

Helen is Programme Director for the MSc in Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings. She is the module lead for ‘Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment’. She advised on the development of the ‘Health and Wellbeing in Cities: Theory and Practice’ module, and lectures in this module annually. She has previously given lectures for the Bartlett School of Planning ‘Sustainable Property: Valuation, Investment, Development’ module, the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) ‘Urban Innovation and Policy’ and the Institute for Global Health 'Urban Health' module.

Helen supervises postgraduate students at master’s and doctoral level at UCL, and previously at other institutions. At doctoral level she has supervised PhDs at University of Reading and UCL, including in the Bartlett School of Planning and the Institute for Global Health.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2019
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Fine Arts | 2007
University of Washington Seattle
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 2003


Dr Helen Pineo is an Associate Professor in Healthy and Sustainable Cities in the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London. She is an expert in urban planning, indicators and evidence use by urban policy-makers. Helen’s research focuses broadly on how property development, regeneration and urban policy can support health and sustainability. Her research approach is informed by her training and industrial experience working as an urban planner in the private and public sectors, both in the UK and internationally. 

Helen studied Community and Environmental Planning at the University of Washington in Seattle, obtaining her BA in 2003. Her postgraduate studies were at UCL, receiving her MA in 2006 and PhD in 2019. From 2008-2018 she worked as a planning consultant and associate director in organisations including the Local Government Association and Building Research Establishment. She is a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI) and a Design Council Built Environment Expert. She has provided expert advice about healthy urban planning to the NHS England Healthy New Towns Programme, Obesity Health Alliance, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.