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  • Writer's picturekristi park

Happy People, Happy Cities?

In 2019, several themes emerged in our work centered around human and ecological health. One unexpected theme was focused on the idea of happiness. At first it felt odd to add the word "happiness" as a design goal. After learning more about this concept and exploring it as a theme with clients, we have become convinced "happiness" just might be a critical element to consider in all future projects.

It turns out, we are not alone in our exploration of happiness centered place-making. We discovered the organization and were specifically struck by their recipe of 8 ingredients to create a happy city. To summarize, Happy City suggests that the following criteria are helpful to create happy people in a happy city. First, a community's core needs must be met (air, water, food, shelter). Although this sounds basic, when you look at the air quality index of many cities, access to clean water, and food shortages, this is an enormous goal. Next comes the following, social relationships, health, equity and relative status, ease, joy, meaning and belonging. We are skimming the surface of Happy City's criteria, please check out their article for a deep dive into these topics.

Our challenge to the design community in 2020: Try out the idea of happiness as a design framework for your next project. Go, on... sheepishly grin, take a deep breath, and talk to your clients about designing places to achieve happiness. This simple framework, with such a deep meaning of richly important goals and objectives, just might work. Besides, when's the last time you were in a meeting centered around design and place-making where you frequently heard the word happy? Perhaps the worst that can happen? We become happier?

What do you think?

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