Intentional Design for Health Outcomes

Mariposa Healthy Living Initiative

Denver, CO

Applied Research with Design Thinking

The Mariposa Healthy Living Initiative is a strategy initiated by the Mariposa Redevelopment, where health is part of all decisions—from planning to property management. Using design thinking, Mithun translated public health research and methods into an accessible, integrated process for developers and designers to baseline indicators, prioritize, and implement project strategies for wellbeing. Mithun applied this at Mariposa, creating a district-wide strategy to coordinate investments (Campaigns for Action), conducting an evaluation of community health after two phases of redevelopment (Get the Facts Evaluation) and developing an evidence-based guide to integrate health into real estate for broad application (Mariposa Healthy Living Toolkit).

The Good Life

Mariposa’s intentional health-promoting design elements and programs are dramatically improving residents’ quality of life. The community health evaluation found community members have logged thousands of hours in walking groups, activities, and nutrition education, and describe a sense of belonging. Since moving in, they report losing significant weight and no longer needing maintenance medication.

A Game Changer

The Toolkit, available online here, is an open-source best practice published by Center for Active Design, CDC, and HUD. It transformed Denver Housing Authority’s practice, and is also inspiring developers and designers nationally.

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