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’s research aims to redefine the meaning and practice of healthy urban development through the lenses of equity, inclusion and sustainability. She contributes to the evidence base about why and how to do healthy urbanism by using transdisciplinary approaches and amplifying the needs of underrepresented communities and the planet.

Currently, Helen is leading 'Change Stories', a project that uses ethnographic methods to learn from the cultures, narratives and contexts that have supported shifts to equitable and sustainable development. She is co-leading an exploratory study investigating the health impacts of housing created through Permitted Development Rights in London.

Using participatory, systems thinking and other methods, Helen's research has investigated: overcrowding and COVID, integration of health objectives in new property development, a new way to conceptualise multi-scalar health impacts (THRIVES, see bookjournal articleonline training course), evidence use in government policy and decision-making (as a collaborator on the Wellcome Trust funded CUSSH project), and urban health indicators and their use by planners.

Helen has created research impact by collaborating with government, industry, charities and professional institutions. With a Bartlett Innovation Fund award she co-develop online training on the THRIVES framework, which participants have praised for creating 'a bridge between theory and practice'. She won a Research Excellence Award from the Royal Town Planning Institute for healthy regeneration guidance that she authored. She has co-authored numerous reports on housing, planning, climate 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. Helen’s work focuses broadly on how urban change can support health and sustainability in the context of environmental degradation and equity challenges. 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 Ambassador. She has provided expert advice on healthy urbanism internationally, including for the World Health Organization, the NHS England Healthy New Towns Programme, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.