Urban Scrawl Issue 3

Page 1

Reasons To Be Cheerful

urban scrawl

Issue 3


Exploring Happiness Exploring Happiness

Editorial The world financial system, the economy, the coalition government, the budget (or lack of it), the public sector cutbacks, the architects and planners at the job centre, the developers in administration, the projects shelved, the masterplans left gathering dust, the sites left unfinished and the World Cup... Its has been rough recently. Is there anything more than years of penny pinching and wound licking to look forward to? Well yes we think there is This Urban Scrawl is dedicated to the threads of hope still out there in this fractured, turbulent and fragile world of the built environment. It may seem strange to talk about happiness at the moment, but many people are. Researchers, developers, social thinkers and politicians are all wondering why we didn’t get happier in the years of plenty. Indeed research shows that levels of happiness were lower in the boom years than they were in the years of austerity after the war. So maybe we should be planning for happiness rather than prosperity? If so, what does this mean in practice and how can the built environment be designed to promote wellbeing. In the spirit of enquiry Urban Scrawl set out to ask. 2 – ISSUE 03 2 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness Exploring Happiness

Contents 1




Rebuilding the market: – rethinking housing after the recession

Exploring Happiness Nick Dodd describes the work

Sarah Jarvis interviews practitioners and

happiness and wellbeing standard

commentators to discuss who are we

for the developer igloo.

he has been doing on a health

currently bulding new housing for and how might this change in the future.




Manifesto Upgrade: from Comfort to Happy, Flourishing Super Monkeys

Happiness Strategies at One Brighton

Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood - Communities are good for you

Pete Halsall of , BioRegional

David Rudlin asks should we be paying

Jamie Anderson trys to find out why we

Quintain talks about their

more attention to the communities

can’t get happy in our moern cities?

‘One Brighton’ Scheme’

we are helping to create?

24-25 The Built Environment and Wellbeing Elizabeth Burton on WISE (Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments)

Credits Editoral Team:

URBED (urbanism environment design) Ltd

Sarah Jarvis, Andy Kelham, John Sampson

Fifth Floor, 10 Little Lever Street


Manchester, M1 1HR

Charlie Baker: Front Image, p.5,Back Image

t. 0161 200 5500

David Rudlin: p.4 Pete Halsall: p.21

email: scrawl@urbed.coop web: www.urbed.coop

Illustrations: John Sampson: p.10-15

3 – ISSUE 03 3 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Rebuilding the market – rethinking housing after the recession As the runaway housing market catches its breath in recession, Sarah Jarvis has interviewed practitioners and commentators from the across the sector if we are really making the most of an opportunity to redefine new housing and re-engineer a product that may be what people say they want, but which has not always promoted happiness and well-being. Is it time to ask ourselves who are we building for and how might that change in a future uncertain? Until about October 2007 it seemed

Hemingway contrasts thought given

the past. He finds a particular mindset

that property sold itself. It wasn’t just

to selling second hand homes: “Think

in the house building market not to

property, of course. We were buying cars

of all the television programmes that

spend money with research agencies,

and CDs, TVs and trainers, as well.

are devoted to telling us what people

whether they are volume housebuilders

want, what colour to paint your house,

preferring to do their own in-house work

The recession changed all that, and now

which kitchen to fit. At Red or Dead

or niche market-makers relying on their

companies across the board are looking

we had researched our customers to

own understanding of the market.

for new opportunities to rebuild their

the nth degree – and we were doing

markets. Designer Wayne Hemingway

that for a bloody blouse. But ask

Dan Bridgett, Head of Public Affairs

points out that one strategy invaluable to

MORI how many house builders

at Barratt Developments counters

all successful manufacturers is to find out

have been to them to commission

that Barratt carries out “exhaustive

as much as they can about their customers.

research on what people want.”

research”. Customer satisfaction is

“That’s why everything including cereal

extremely high and, Bridgett asserts,

packets has surveys asking people

So we did. Bobby Duffy, Managing

that does not happen by accident.

about themselves and their tastes.”

Director of Public Affairs at Ipsos

MORI has certainly not seen a change

But who has been buying new build?

But that doesn’t apply, apparently, to

in behaviour. “I think it must be one of

Hemingway quotes research by Savills at

house building. “Of all the industries

the most under-researched industries

the turn of the Millennium, which showed

we have worked in, housing is the

relative to its value – they must spend

that only between 20 and 28% of house

weakest in terms of understanding what

a minuscule fraction of a percent on

buyers would consider buying a new house

its customers want.” This is because,

research, in contrast to most mature

from a house builder. “If only 20% wanted

he concludes, until now housebuilders

markets.” But Duffy says that he cannot

to buy this product how does it still exist?

“never really had to take much notice.”

really see the recession changing that,

Imagine if the same were true for M&S or

as experience shows that it has not in

the BBC – they would soon cease to exist – so how did housebuilders survive?”

4 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Sprawling Housing development in Hul

Yolande Barnes, Director of Residential

the only real areas of oversupply now are

toys. “By contrast in Hammarby Sjöstad,

Research at property agents Savills

in Docklands in London, and city centres

Sweden, although it wasn’t anticipated that

confirms that buyers of new build houses

like Leeds and Manchester – all the places

families would go there, the good internal

are still not typical. “When housebuilders

where big regeneration projects have been

space standards and outside space have

do research, what they do is they ask

focused. “We have been so unimaginative

attracted families; the general design and

their customers. But they forget that

about doing these things. We think

good neighbourhood that was created,

their customers are a weird lot in terms

that building buy-to-let flat factories

with cars underground, etc, was very

of the whole market, certainly in the

actually constitutes regeneration.”

usable, very practical. I can’t think of many

past they’ve been a very rarefied group

schemes in London that replicate that.”

indeed, because they’re the people

Where families have a choice, flats largely

who buy new build. They keep asking

remain unpopular and Barnes is aware that

She notes, however, that there is a cultural

the lunatics about the asylum.”

much modern development has also been

difference between the Scandinavians and

particularly child unfriendly, from the signs

the British. “A lot of people forget that

One problem, she believes, has been the

saying no ball games to the creation of vast

your average, middle class Scandinavian

narrowness of the product range on offer.

tracts of grass that nobody’s allowed to

family will have a wooden hut in the woods

“Traditionally the mass house builder has

actually sit on. “We’ve generally speaking

or the beach, and that is important.”

not catered to a broad range of occupiers,

built single buildings west of the City of

She emphasises, also, that Hammarby is

they have gone on targeting the same

London because that’s all the land that’s

still a relatively new place, and believes

people. Ten years ago it was all ‘executive

been available, so unless there’s already

that we should not forget the success of

family homes’; then they said they would

a park and all the amenities there, we

established neighbourhoods in Britain

broaden their market base, but they just

haven’t been building neighbourhoods

such as Northcote Road in Wandsworth,

added another type of homogenous buyer

suitable for children.” She mentions an

South London. “You can learn much

– the buy-to-let investor. So they built

expensive high-rise riverside apartment

more from studying that neighbourhood

buy-to-let flats or executive homes and

scheme in London where the glassed-

about how to make a good place than you

nothing in-between.” Barnes thinks that

in ‘winter gardens’ are crammed with

can even from Hammarby, because it’s evolved – it provides what people want.”

5 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm

David Birkbeck, Chief Executive of not-

a lack of choice, he believes that there

Birkbeck advocates that we get used

for-profit company Design for Homes

is now a pressing need for new products

to thinking of our ‘property lives’ as

(where Barnes is also a director), is more

in the marketplace which can help

having two halves – up to the age of 50

concerned with the other end of the

make the decision to downsize easier.

and then from 50 onwards. This way we will make provision for the needs of

purchaser’s lifecycle and thinks that one of the main challenges for housing in future

Like Barnes, Birkbeck is also looking to

our old age earlier and as part of the

will be unlocking the huge proportion

Europe for examples that we can learn

wider community. While there are some

of the country’s property value currently

from and has recently visited several. He

schemes being developed in Britain they

“tied up in the hands of pensioners”.

believes that crucially older age should

often tend to be gated developments with

not mean isolation. “Switzerland is a good

campus-like facilities for people who can

Having so many of the country’s three-

model here, and there are also schemes in

retire early. The Pad 55 development in

or four-bed homes occupied by single

Denmark and Sweden, such as Neptuna in

Pickering, East Yorkshire, showed the

pensioners has created an imbalance in

Malmö’s Western Harbour District which

importance of removing the covenant

the housing stock and while Birkbeck

is a Lifetime Neighbourhood. There needs

restricting the age of those living there,

acknowledges that the reluctance of

to be a greater range of people living

so that it becomes easier to sell the

people to move home later in life can

together – pensioners near kindergartens

properties later on in the second hand

be for social reasons as well as through

works very well, it keeps people active.”

market. In general, though, the product

6 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

in the UK is still far too inflexible. “We

European companies to bring different

Walden estate that owns London’s

need to think like train companies offering

house building models to the UK market,

‘Marylebone Village’, she would like to

‘off-peak tickets’ – our housing stock is not

products that perhaps better suit our

see new tax incentives to encourage a

flexible like that. There needs to be more

needs, desires and aspirations, products

longer-term interest. “When investors

money for researching those products.”

that intuitively engage with the promotion

have a long-term ownership in the area

of a healthier, happier lifestyle. Companies

they are going to want to get a better mix

One practice that is exploring a more

registering interest with the HCA’s Public

– and not just flog it as quickly as possible

flexible product is Croydon-based

Land Initiative have included Bouygues

to the nearest high bidder.” She believes

Geraghty Taylor Architects, who are in

and Skanska, with its ‘Modernahus’

that such investment could attract the

pre-application discussions to develop

model, which uses substantial off-site

sort of investing institutions who would

their ‘Living Home’ scheme on a local

manufacture. Birkbeck believes that one

otherwise buy very long-dated bonds. But

back land site. A 3-storey house on a

advantage they may have is that “they are

at the moment she believes that “no one

relatively small footprint can be turned

more aware of what they’re building”.

in the property industry really speaks the

from a single family dwelling into three

language of the investment and finance

flats or a flat and maisonette. The scheme

As well as new products, Barnes believes

industry. We have got to learn to turn

has been driven by an awareness of fuel

that housing needs a fundamental

these design propositions that we know

poverty issues and the generally poor

change in the underlying model of

are good for communities and good for

performance of older housing stock, but

development. “The problem in the past

places, into financial propositions.”

also addresses the cultural and social

was that it was all about what yields most

factors that can inhibit older people

in the short term, not the long term.

Finally, Hemingway believes that just

from moving house later in life.e.

The individual house builder was often

as the building industry must change, so

working directly against the interests

too has the buyer. “When house builders

Brian Alborough at Geraghty Taylor

of the long term landowners, but when

could sell all they built they didn’t have

thinks that the post-recession landscape

the long-term landowners were a whole

to care about their customers. Nowadays

will definitely be changing for house

range of disparate people who will buy

people are more discerning. They are

builders as both local authorities and

in a frenzy, it doesn’t actually matter.”

not rushing to buy houses anymore as

customers become more discerning. From

the mortgages are not there and the idea

his experience with other authorities,

To replace the mono-cultural

that prices are only going upwards so you

he believes that “Croydon is ahead of

developments that have proven

can’t fail to make money has gone.”

the game”. From April 2010 the south

so unsuccessful – both in terms of

London borough – where former CABE

placemaking and with the market – she

With hindsight, the recession might

and Housing Corporation Chief Executive

believes that a better mix will be achieved

have been the spur developers and

Jon Rouse is now in charge – will be

by encouraging longer-term investment.

policymakers needed to rethink

requiring a Sustainable Homes Code

“Recession has forced change because

housing, to create a better climate

Level 4 on all new housing. Croydon is

the market has fallen away, but so far

of building for the betterment of the

also still building new council housing

what it’s resulted in is nothing happening,

individual purchaser and collective

of its own, with a development of larger

rather than something else happening.

community. As Hemingway remarks,

family homes planned at Code Level 5.

What hasn’t changed is that we haven’t

“the difficulty to get a mortgage might

yet got the mechanisms for long-term

eventually prove to be a good thing.”

And while the commercial house-building

developers to come on board.”

market may still be crippled, Birkbeck says that it won’t be in five years’ time.

Citing the model of successful commercial

This will be an opportunity for other

property owners, like the Howard de

7 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Exploring Happiness URBED have been working with specialist property investor and developer igloo regeneration to develop and monitor socially-responsible principles for property investment, now known as their Footprint Policy. The initial principles covered regeneration, sustainability and design. To these have been added a fourth category covering well-being and happiness. URBED’s Nick Dodd describes these new principles and the standards that have been set.

The Pursuit of happiness Specialist


The city as a place of contradictions









More sentient and decadent lifestyles

Regeneration commissioned URBED to

contradictions and are often portrayed

which have reduced how much physical

develop a new set of policies designed to

as unhealthy places characterised by

exercise we do and increased levels of

shape how their developments improve

pollution, crime and the worst of human




nature. Places where people live closely

Wellbeing´. Here we set out our thinking

together but often know nothing about

of quality green space that limits the

behind the policies.

one anothers lives and where the values of

potential for exercise, relaxation and

community have been eroded.

social contact,



Whilst the notion of a property developer seeking



A degraded public realm and a lack






Trends in society, social engineering and

that has proved consistently difficult

happiness and wellbeing might seem a little

the poor quality of the urban environment

to tackle, leaving whole sections of

esoteric, in reality it is something that has

and buildings in many of the UK’s cities

society without hopes or aspirations

preoccupied architects, urban designers,

have conspired to re-inforce the unhealthy

for the future,


image of our cities. Examples include:






developers for centuries.

Status anxiety, stress and time pressure resulting





In seeking to bring greater ‘health, happiness


and wellbeing’ to urban neighbourhoods


igloo is following a rich tradition of not just

harmful materials and finishings,

investing in buildings, streets and spaces but

















which have contributed to a dramatic increase in mental health problems.


But cities are a place of contradictions.

in thinking about how they may influence

increasing congestion which directly

The ‘wit and mess’ of urban life has always

people´s quality of life now and for many

affects health, reduces life expectancy

attracted people, creating new possibilities

years to come.

and increases stress,

for free expression and for meeting people from different places and walks of life with

8 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

new perspectives. ‘Town air makes the

can see a future in which they may be happy.

man free’ wrote George Simmel observing

The implication is that before we can even

German cities in the 18th Century.

talk about happiness a focus is needed on what is needed to improve people´s basic

Cities have always stimulated new ideas

living conditions and their health and

and thinking, challenging human ingenuity

wellbeing – housing, employment, crime,

to respond to the needs of urban society.


For more information on igloo and to download the footprint sustainable inverstment policy visit: www.igloo.uk.net

people to define happiness on their own

Great cities are creative and dynamic places,

terms – by creating the space and time

where people and place come together to

The pursuit of happiness

to nurture social bonds and networks, in

create something really special.

Happiness is equally as precious as health

whatever form they might take, and to have

and wellbeing but is less easy to reliably

a family. Modern patterns of commuting

Can regeneration improve wellbeing?

orchestrate. In modern consumer society

have also upset people´s work/life balance.

There are large areas of urban Britain where

people often define or calibrate their

hope for the future is hard to find. In the

happiness against their peers, or what

For this to happen spaces are needed

post-war era the decline of manufacturing

clever marketing establishes as lifestyle

for where social contact can be made

has created whole areas where high


This has the created the

– in streets, public spaces, markets, third

employment is the norm. Slum clearance

modern Catch 22 of status anxiety in which

places (such as cafes and pubs) or even,

and social engineering in the 1960’s and

we demand greater choice but as a result

as suggested by recent projects such as

1970’s created immense upheaval and

can never be happy.

Increasing mental

the new suburb of Vikki in Helsinki, be

served to accelerate the erosion of the

health problems are a symptom of this,

augmented by the internet. Schools have

social fabric of these communities.

together with the increased pace of modern

been shown to be particularly important

life in which time is a commodity.

in fostering social contact across different

The modern drive to ‘regenerate’ carries

forms of tenure and ethnicity. Urban living

the risk of further polarising society. With

The need to live more sustainably has added

also offers a solution to restoring people´s

the gap widening between the haves – those

to the concerns of modern life. But this

work/life balance by promoting greater

with the wealth to sustain an increase

need not be a barrier to greater happiness,

proximity between home and work.

in values and buy into ‘urban living’ and

and in fact it may offer a way forward as

healthy lifestyles - and the have nots – the

people have begun to question modern

But happiness is not just about social

socially excluded living in poor quality

lifestyles and aspirations. Research by the


housing, without access to employment and

New Economics Foundation, amongst

of ´self actualisation´ is about having

basic amenities, exposed to crime, social

others, has highlighted that fact that

hopes and aspirations for the future and

breakdown, insecurity and a degraded local

“people are just as likely to lead satisfied

the opportunity for people to realise


lives whether their levels of consumption

their potential.

are very low or high”.

potential to establish new businesses in

To try and change things a careful approach

Returning to Maslov´s theme

This could include the

order to realise their ideas and to support

to ´regeneration´ is needed focussing first

Contemporary sociologists such as Gehl,

themselves and their family. But it can

on people´s wellbeing. The psychologist

Puttnam and Oldenburg have highlighted

also relate to people´s community and

Abraham Maslow provides useful insight

the importance of a ´life lived with others´

neighbourhood. In each case it is about

into what this might mean in practice. He

- our intrinsic need for social contact. Their

creatng the opportunity to participate in

observed that people have intrinsic needs

writing suggests that the pursuit of happiness

shaping, influencing and investing in their

that have to be met in order to ensure they

might lie the creation of opportunities for


9 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Developing igloo´s approach

Context is everything:


The new policies set out measures and

Bringing together this thinking has resulted



standards that at first glance seem common

in four new policies which in turn deal

igloo regeneration project should

sense but in modern developments are

with ‘health, happiness and wellbeing’ and

be an appreciation of the wider

overlooked. They also focus attention

which will be applied to all their property


on the wider neighbourhood, and in the

investments. Their approach is based on



spirit of urbanism, the chance to harness

three basic premises:

neighbourhood wellbeing, with an initial

the potential of cities to change lives and

focus on basic needs and defficiencies.

realise people’s potential. It is in this way

Celebrating the city:












That the focus should be on celebrating

that the long-term value of investment •


in regeneration can be unlocked, to the

That igloo should seek to create

benefit of investors, communities and the

contribution that cities have made to



civilisation, the ways in which they can

fulfilling and happy lives, based on an

improve people’s quality of life, and

understanding of the human condition

how their more detrimental effects can

and basic needs, and bounded by a

be minimised or even designed out.

strong social contract and the need to





Happiness but not at any cost: for




The standards are set out below:

live within environmental constraints.

Creating opportunities for community

Standard 1: Vibrancy & intensity The public realm should provide enough visual interest and active facades at ground level to retain people for longer, and to encourage them AR



to stop and spend time in the neighbourhood. IB

This should be measured based on: CY



,0 0







I nt es it y

F o o t f al l T a r g e

an d

per hr

Footfall, with a target of 8,000 per day for active frontages, adjusted for the temporal distribution caused by different mixes of uses.

Façade visual interest, with a target for areas of active uses of at least 6-8 unit doors per 100 metre, of which at least 1 should promote


sitting, extending into the public realm


People’s speed of movement, and the length and type of interaction with the ground floor uses - with a target of a 25% stopping to look, and 20 people per hour / 10m of facade stopping to socialise or go in/out of a building

10 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Standard 2: Broadband access All homes and workplaces in igloo schemes will have access to high capacity fibre optic Co m

broadband networks, in order to give them

u m



a competitive edge, facilitate modern acilites

patterns of living and working, and in order to future-proof data transfer capabilities.


Communal facilities and portals will be made


available to all residents in order to facilitate networking and information sharing.






Co m



p on s i b

ties i li

l a re a

egal res

es i

be based on best practice from mixed – tenure


defined by each community over time. It should





for other aspects to be formalised as social norms

............................... ............................... ............................... .........................


avoid anti-social behaviour – with the capacity


i ub l c


clearly setout legal responsibilities – such as to


es of r iti

schemes and social landlords, and will setout the rights and responsibilities of residents to one another and to the upkeep of the scheme and its public realm and communal areas.

11 – ISSUE 03

m u na

role to a tenancy agreement. The ‘contract’ should

p of

A Social Contract

All residents of igloo schemes will be required to sign-up to a ‘social contract’ that is similar in its




Standard 3: Social contract



the sc

al m re




Exploring Happiness


Supporting Healthy Lives



u al A

cc e ss


Standard 1: Dual aspect


1: D

The majority of residential units should have two perpendicular aspects, particularly where streets are narrow or north facing. The two aspects should be no more than 12 metres apart (for conventional ceiling heights and a 1:1 street enclosure ratio), with the internal layout facilitating the free



passage of air between the two aspects – with the exception of internal stairwells or communal


atriums that are designed to passively ventilate.

x x =1 x












ce ns


V i b ra



Standard 2: Natural edge At least one aspect for each home or workspace should provide a view with visual interest,




either in the form of a vibrant street scene or

S pa ce

green/blue space in a courtyard or across a larger external space. Street trees should be




p ac e

planted at a density of 80 trees per km of street.




B 80

12 – ISSUE 03


Exploring Happiness

Standard 3: Materials to be avoided ST A





Specific materials will be blacklisted and will be excluded from use by contractors. The initial list AT


will include:





HCFC’s, polyurethane, polystyrole and PVC





ic woods


Pr eservative

Fo rmaldehyde

L Co ead ds mpoun

Chlorinated compounds – Fluorinated carbons such as

Formaldehyde – Contained in products such as particle board and insulation

Lead compounds – Contained in paints or primers

Toxic wood preservatives – PCP’s, lindane and dichlorofluoronide

Volatile Organic Compounds – Common paint ingredients and solvent bases including acrylic resin, ethylene glycol, petroleum and toluene.

Ch l orinated C om pounds





cr ete

sho uld be

The use of concrete should be carefully considered and designed c litile Organi Com unds po


in order to take into account potential for radon gas.

carefully considered

Standard 4: Leisure routes & spaces



enables them to make a leisure walk or cycle


+ SP A


at least one safe walking and cycling route that






All residents and workers should have access to



of at least 2km from their front door and in a continuous green setting (see Standard 2). A green or open space of at least 1 hectare should be accessible to all within a 400 metre walking distance, and in family areas this should include

D 5: L AR








a Local Equipped Area of Play (LEAP).

Standard 5: Lifetime homes All igloo homes will seek to comply with the broad principles of Lifetime Homes. igloo will seek to ensure that it’s ‘Lifetime Homes’ respond to the need to attract and retain people in cities, to include people wanting to start a family but to stay in the city, but also older people wanting to ‘downshift’. Through its management arrangements igloo will seek to respond to residents changing needs, which could include assistance to identify and/or move to homes that are smaller or larger.

13 – ISSUE 03


Exploring Happiness

Living in the city ST









Standard 1: Security Entrances and transitions from public to communal/private space, as well as the quality of external doors, windows and fixtures will conform with the latest guidelines published under the Police’s Secured by Design standards. Concierges will be provided where it is viable. igloo will seek to respond to best practice and guidance promoted by Secured by Design, in so far as it does not conflict with igloo’s emphasis on informal surveillance created by well used streets and public realm, and

Sky view: Schemes should achieve an average ground


a te



li m




c ro


Standard 2: Microclimate


community stewardship of the public realm.

floor Sky View Factor of 0.58, with no one street or ground level window achieving less than 0.18. Ceiling heights should be at least 2.8 metres, preferably


higher at ground level, and glazing ratios should be higher on areas of façade with a lower Sky View


Factor, albeit balanced against potential heat loss. •




Daylighting: Plan depths for residential and commercial units should aim to be less than 14 metres for ceiling


heights of 2.8 metres. Individual residential units


should achieve daylighting levels of 2% in kitchens and 1.5% in living rooms, dining rooms and studies. •


Overheating: The internal microclimate of homes and workspaces should moderate temperature within a tolerance of 28 oC for 99% of the time with bedrooms that are below 26 oC for 99% of the time.

14 – ISSUE 03

D 3: IN R N AL







Exploring Happiness


Standard 3: Internal Spaces Homes will conform to the following

A C ES 6



minimum internal floor areas






















Private Fla t


Standard 4: External space (private and communal)

m 7.5





per unit

Schemes will be designed so that homes have access to a Town

combination of public, communal and private external space. For blocks and streets 10m2 of communal space should be designed-

2 5m





se s

in per unit, usually in the form of courtyards, although up to 50%


of this could comprise streets designated as home zones. Minimum



Standard 5: Privacy



in-curtilage private external space standards are as follows:


Homes will have an airborne sound insulation value at least 5dB higher than that required in the current approved Building Imp

Regulations Document Part E. Impact sound insulation values a



5 >1

Part E





will be at least 5dB lower that the performance standards set out in Part E. At least 10 % of igloos homes will be tested to demonstrate that they achieve the required standard.

Intrusion should be minimised through consideration of glazing, Airb or


Part E


internal floor layouts and distances between blocks. This should be based on the guidance referenced. Distances between blocks facing onto streets can be relatively tight, potentially down to 8 metres, as long as properties have a second aspect with a longer view, and a distance from other units of more than 15 metres.

15 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Manifesto Upgrade: from Comfort to Happy, Flourishing Super Monkeys

URBED’s Jamie Anderson has been working for the last 12 months on a PhD at the Martin Centre at Cambridge University. Based on his research this article looks at urban design through the lenses of Positive & Evolutionary Psychology

We were born hedonists. As babies we are unabashed pleasure

You are a super monkey. Well, super primate - with hundreds

seekers, trying to grab smooth objects, chomping sweet edifices

of millions of years of R&D behind you. Trouble is, with the

and checking out pretty things. We are wired to pursue happiness

exception of the last few years (approximately 8,000), you and your

but, despite this positive start, the proportion of people in UK

genes were designed for an altogether different environment. You

saying that they are “very happy” has fallen from 52% in 1957 to

are, as Bjorn Grinde puts it, a Stone Age creature living in a Jet

just 36% today. This is echoed in numerous developed countries

Age Zoo. This brings about mismatches or living conditions that

- each frittering colossal potential – since happy people tend to

are alien to the conditions that shaped us - the Environment of

flourish and are associated with physical health, positive relations,

Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA).



productivity. Why

For instance, EEA moulded us, amongst other things, as biophiliacs.

so unhappy?

Pardon? No, that wasn’t an insult – it’s why most of us, sometimes on a deeply sub-conscious level, love nature – from potted plants to eco-tourism. This affinity with nature is powerful. A clever Swede called Roger Ulrich has shown that hospital patients with a green view, not only recover more quickly, need fewer drugs and encounter fewer complications - than those with a view of a brick wall. Grinde calls problematic mismatches - such as lack of patient contact with nature “Discords”. The demise of family and community are two further discords at the interface of culture and our biology. As a cultural form, we know, intuitively, that the built environment has brought and continues to bring discords. However empirically, it is far from clear to what extent the built environment is responsible, directly or indirectly, for this deterioration in happiness. Neither is it clear which specific aspects are mismatches that, in fact, enhance mental wellbeing. For instance, a combination of urban green infrastructure, appropriate massing and street definition

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Exploring Happiness

Significantly Associated

Not Significantly Associated


Height of building (to live in)


Sense of crowding

House type – house, flat, maisonette

Feeling safe in the day time

Light, heat, draughts

Feeling afraid to go out at night

Age of property

Density Recorded crime levels

Event to get people together

Sports and exercise facilities

Places to stop and chat

Shopping facilities

Access to community facilities

Vandalism and maintenance

Access to greenspaces

Needles and syringes left lying around

Feeling that people influence decisions

Access facilities

Liking the ‘look’ of the estate Transport and accessibility




Factors found to be significantly associated with

Urban and rural population (billions) - UNEP

mental well-being in Greenwich

is not only beneficial in terms of microclimate and physiological

negative emotions of anger and fear - towards perceived threats

comfort but, the associated wildlife seems to bring a lot of people

(Etcoff, 2008). The ‘smoke detector’ is turned up too high and may

joy and the positive enclosure - a sense of coherence and increased

activate at a violin recital, or when walking in your local park.

social interaction. One of the first attempts to determine the impact of urban traits was undertaken by Greenwich Council

However, a positive psychologist would assert that, although

and their Teaching Primary Care Trust (Guite et al, 2006). This

responses to threats are essential (if we were governed only by

primary research established 13 factors as, statistically, significant

pleasure we would not survive) evolutionary theory neglects

to promoting well-being in local people. Nine other factors were

positive emotions. These emotions may have played an equally

found not to be significantly associated (see table).

important part in encouraging us to behave in ways that ensure our survival. They might say that not only do we need to make people

An evolutionary psychologist may flag-up that we can be extremely

feel safer with ground floor street animation and more comfortable

sensitive to negatives (the majority of the items on the left side of

with microclimate strategies but, look for ways to encourage

the table). We may be like this for good reason; evolutionarily, our

opportunities and enhance positives.

monkey brains knew that if we were not careful about ‘sticks’ then

defined and appropriately enclosed streets, active ground floors

there may be no ‘carrots’ to collect (Hanson, 2009). Our aversion to

plus benches, play areas, public art, biodiversity etc. Good urban

the taste of sour – which is detected at 1:2 million - compared with

design makes sense in positive psychology terms.

For instance, positively

1:200 for sweet - is one example. These days, a well-used marriage formula may have more relevance: make five positive remarks to

But we do not always get what we design. How do we know which

offset a single negative remark! (Gottman, 2005). Scenarios more

features are of most importance to well-being? Do some features

innocuous than an annoying spouse can prompt stress responses.

override others for different users? Do we know all of the most

The reaction is sometimes formidable - our bodies can be flooded

effective design interventions that cultivate happy patterns of

with endogenous opioids to dose pain, our blood vessels constrict

behaviour, thinking, feeling, motivation and social connection?

so that we are less likely to bleed, our heart pounds - ready to prime

There have been only modest amounts of valid research to date so

muscles etc. Our ancient systems are primed for survival and the

the answer to these questions is still no. The science of well-being

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Exploring Happiness

offers an opportunity to bolster as well as broaden the holistic remit of the urban design paradigm. Particularly in developing countries, where urban populations are increasing exponentially and it is paramount that wellbeing is optimized. As with any science - definitions are a good place to start. Happiness and well-being are both umbrella terms and are sometimes used interchangeably. There are two key types of well-being and both apply at personal and interpersonal levels. The first – hedonics - is more commonly known as subjective well-being (SWB). SWB is very much about how people feel. It is about pleasure and enjoyment – the presence of positive emotions, the absence of negative and satisfaction (Huppert et al, 2009). SWB gives us at lot to go at. The positive emotions alone – as recently suggested by Paul Ekman - are thought to include sensory pleasures,

of positive emotions (Begely, 2004). In additon, our brains can

amusement, contentment, relief, excitement, wonder, ecstasy,

enlarge and gain in sophistication throughout our lives. They are

elevation, gratitude and compassion. There are even two emotions

far more adaptable or “plastic” than we ever thought. They are

that elude the English dictionary: Schadenfreude - happiness in

built for change and to learn. We can all therefore lift our ‘set-

another’s misfortune; Naches - pride and joy in their children.

point’ - our average happiness - for ourselves.

The second key type of happiness is known as psychological well-

As individuals, the combination of evolved executive functions

being (PWB) and is based on Aristotle’s eudaimonia; the life well-

and neuroplasticity is powerful. They allow us to learn and/ or

lived. PWB extends well-being beyond the way people feel and

employ psychological processes such as mindfulness, altruism,

is more about how people function. It is about their autonomy,

compassion, optimism training etc. We can free ourselves from

competence or environmental mastery, interest, engagement and

the automatic behaviors and emotions (i.e. fear and anger) of our

meaning or purpose in life. It is about well-being as an active process

primate relatives and embrace our positive mental attributes to

‘well-doing’ and not the passive process of how good people feel

synthesize happiness. Meditating Buddhist monks are a powerful

(Huppert et all, 2009). As an urban designer working at URBED,

example. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists

the concept of eudaimonia brings a degree of reassurance. Amongst

have found that monks revamp their brain structure and function

other things, we strive for connectivity, freedom of movement and

by expanding or strengthening circuits. As a result, the more

truly public realm. We push for densities that are conducive to the

experienced the meditator; the deeper and more enduring were

establishment of small businesses and public transport. We treat

the levels of well-being observed (Davidson, 2005).

regeneration as a truly participative and collaborative process with capacity building and community-led design. Each of these, in

But this change is generated from within. We are also susceptible

different ways and to varying degrees, encourages engagement and

to experience of the external physical environment. One of the

active participation; ‘well-doing’.

most famous examples is that of London Taxi drivers. Researchers have found that the number of years spent taxiing correlated with

So why super monkeys? We are 98% chimp but the 2% variance

the size of posterior hippocampi - the area of the brain associated

makes a huge difference. Since separating from our primate

with navigation and spatial memory (Maguire et al, 2000). Monks

ancestors our brains have nearly tripled in size. The architecture of

and cabbies both demonstrate we can remould our brains all of the

our skull has been overhauled in a blink of evolutionary time. This

time. Can the places we design, which are experienced repetitively,

is largely to accommodate huge frontal lobes and the pre-frontal

help expand and strengthen peoples’ happiness circuitry?

cortex (Gilbert, 2008). These new structures are involved in the

is important to note that both the monks and the taxi drivers

‘executive functions’ such as thinking, planning, problem solving,

make these changes under behavioural control. In other words,

language and regions in the left pre-frontal cortex are at the seat

they are not achieved in ‘auto-pilot’ mode. It is not clear what

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Exploring Happiness

the cumulative impact may be for our well-being if we are either

stressors, making people safer and more comfortable. We have a

unconsciously interacting, or, the built environment stimuli is not

much better understanding of microclimate, democratic streets

sufficient to cause a subjective reaction.

and spaces etc. This has been very important work in light of our hyper sensitive ‘smoke detectors’ and the fact that pleasure is, in

Recent research concluded that it may well be important to design

part, about the absence of negative emotions. And as mentioned

for sensory stimulation (Byoko et al 2008). This does not necessarily

earlier, we have already gone some way to promoting eudaimonia.

mean we should start licking buildings or sniffing shared surfaces. It certainly does mean that we can pay more attention to the senses

We were born hedonists and although many of us lead comfortable,

and grapple with questions such as: what does the notion of hedonic

wealthier lives, we are not, on average, that happy. Our genes

adaptation (becoming habituated or used to good or bad) mean for

are expressed through environment (Huppert, 2009) and the

sunny, thoughtfully scented, tactile public space? How else can we

built environment may have a role to play in activating as well as

build or encourage eudaimonia - which people do not adapt to and

regulating genes. It may well be a moderate impact compared with

can be constantly varied?

psychological interventions we learn, like the monks, as individuals. But we can ‘point’ or at least ‘nudge’ peoples’ happiness - both

It is understandable that research into happiness may prompt

directly via the senses - for passive recipients and in-directly i.e.

some skepticism. Quite rightly, we have a fear of architectural

facilitating social interaction or meaningful job creation for active

determinism and repeating carbuncles associated with modernist

participators. Collectively, as practitioners and researchers, our

optimism in the 1960’s- 70s. However, the modernists did not

large ‘plastic’ forebrains equip us with the imagination to work,

employ any proper holistic (valid or reliable) ‘affective forecasting’

more deliberately and creatively, towards an upgraded manifesto:

- knowing how we will feel in the future. Research and design

taking us from comfort to a happy and flourishing species.

has already come along way in reducing discords, environmental 19 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

Happiness Strategies at One Brighton The recently completed ‘One Brighton’ scheme by Bioregional Quintain is an experiment in happiness. Built as part of URBED’s New England Quarter masterplan, the scheme has been conceived, designed, constructed, marketed and managed in accordance with the 10, One Planet Living principles. One of these principles is to promote health and happiness something perhaps a little radical for us Calvinist Brits? However Pete Halsall of , BioRegional argues that we should assuage our feelings of guilt and silliness that we seem to feel in pursuing such a goal.

As a developer we are corporately

and food growing areas, as that would be a

quality? What about the huge damage to



great place to socialise, meet new people,

respiratory health by mould growth in warm

Communities. The joy of working with

and grow food and maybe flowers. So we’ve

but wet buildings? We have created a vapour

these principles is the process of discovery

done that. Another said that an apartment

permeable wall system so that water vapour

as the implementation of such ideas

building needs gardens, and not necessarily

can escape to the outside and leave the wall

requires considerable research, debate,

of the public realm variety, but perhaps

surface mould free. We have implemented

soul searching, thinking and no small

in small , intimate places where one can

a Scandinavian heat recovery ventilation

amount of trying to work out how to frame

ponder and enjoy the view. So we have

strategy – not seeking to ventilate by drilling

and then apply them. We have taken the

incorporated ‘sky gardens’, lounge–size

holes in the frames of high performance and

Corbusian approach, and omitted both the

outside spaces interspersed elevationally

very energy efficient windows – but rather by

car and the megalomania to create features

between residential units. Rooms without

mechanically bringing in fresh air, preheating

and characteristics that will engender

windows, filled with light, space and plants.

with waste exhaust air from kitchens and

health, happiness and a genuine sense of

Our architect suggested that we could create

bathrooms and then finally re-heating it

community? Architectural philosophers

a sense of community with corridors that

from renewable energy sources if required to

might say the idea is that of a latter day

mirrored non orthogonal street patterns.

achieve a comfortable room temperature.

humanistic modernism – I say fine to that,

So we’ve done that too.




Above all, we have taken a simple principle

but let’s be a little braver and call it health and happiness by design.

We also thought about health in buildings.

– health and happiness – and applied it

Amazingly, the wider UK green building

to all stages of the development. We even

So – what have we done? Firstly, we

community seems to have virtually no real

applied it to our site workers eco-café, where

consulted and asked everyone a basic but

concept of it. Yes, we must save energy.

builders were fed local and sustainable food

powerful question. If you were going to

Yes, we must reduce air infiltration losses

produce. So let’s not forget, and this could

live in this building, what would make you

as it’s silly after all to insulate a building

be the retrospectively created motto for One

healthier and happier? Somebody suggested

and then let the heat seep away from the

Brighton - it takes healthy and happy workers

that we use the roof space for allotments

unseen cracks. But what about indoor air

to create healthy and happy communities.

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Exploring Happiness

Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood

Communities are good for you As we sculpt the urban neighbourhoods of our cities should we be paying more attention to the communities we are helping to create? Definitely! Should we seek to transplant a suburban life experience into modern urban living? Definitely not argues David Rudlin in this extract from Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood published by the Architectural Press.

Recognising the value of community is one thing,

class areas do not need strong communities to ensure their

understanding how communities work is quite another.

success? The debate about community in the 20th century

Yet without this understanding attempts to create

was almost entirely focused on social housing. The reason was

communities can go hopelessly wrong. This is where the

that communities came to be seen as ‘good for you’ rather

paternalism of public authorities has devalued the concept

than just good. There is just a short step from this to the

of community and where academic and professional debate

philosophy that ‘our idea of community is good for you’.

has been dominated by some very muddled thinking. Inevitably many of the professionals and academics who have Why does no one agonise about the need to build middle-

debated the value of community over this period have done

class communities? Is it that middle-class communities are so

so while living in the suburbs. In the suburbs what people

strong that they do not need professional help or that middle-

tend to mean by community is the rich network of voluntary

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Exploring Happiness Exploring Happiness

groups such as churches and amateur dramatic societies which

youths on the corner who might have been drug dealers. The

thrive in such areas. People may only be on nodding terms

children playing amongst the parked cars were in mortal danger

with their neighbours but they play an active part in networks

(not to mention the dog) and were symptomatic of the area’s

of people who share similar interests and values often over

lack of play facilities. The car mechanics were an unauthorised

quite a wide geographical area. At the same time behaviour

use on the public highway. They noticed the overturned bin,

is controlled by a milieu of social pressures which ensures

the broken glass, the graffiti and could no doubt have found a

that lawns are trimmed and disturbance is minimised.

syringe or two if they had looked hard enough in the back alleys. In short, what they saw was not a tightknit urban community

This is not however the sort of community which has exercised

but a stressed inner city district in need of their help.

academics and professionals concerned with the inner city and social housing development. Their idea of community has not

This is the way that many professionals view urban communities

been the social networks and interest groups that characterise

– through suburban eyes. Most of my fellow council officers

suburban areas but rather a vague notion of conversations

commuted in from the leafy suburbs of south Manchester and had

over the garden fence, corner shops and being able to leave

a very different idea of community from the people of Moss Side.

your front door open while children play on the street. This

This is not to say that either idea of community is right or wrong

lies at the heart of the confusion over what we mean by

or to suggest that Moss Side’s community was perfect. It does

community. We have been seeking to promote a vague and

however illustrate some of the confusion that muddles the debate

idealised notion of urban community yet we have judged such

about community. The community in many of the older parts of

communities by suburban standards so that we have failed

Moss Side has many of the characteristics that professionals and

to recognise and value them even where they do exist.

academics have been promoting for years yet when confronted with such a community, warts and all, in a deprived inner city area

This is perhaps best illustrated by a personal example from

they either do not recognise it or do not like what they see. Instead

Manchester. I remember walking around the terraced streets

they start judging urban areas by suburban standards. This is when

of the Great Western Street area of Moss Side with a group of

attempts to build or engineer communities can go badly wrong.

fellow council officers in the mid 1980s. It was a warm day that

could have come from the memoirs of those elderly residents who moan that things were so much better in the old days.

Sustainable Urban Neighbourhood: Building the 21st Century

Front doors were left open, children were playing in the street,

Home – Architectural Press Oxford 2009

people were chatting on doorsteps, a couple of men were fixing a car propped up on bricks and one particularly blasé dog was

This updates the 1999 edition Building the 21st Century Home

snoozing in the middle of the street. The perfect picture of an

that played a small part in the rediscovery of urbanism in the UK.

urban community, one might think. However this was not what

The new edition has been re=written drawing on the history of the

my fellow council officers were seeing. What they noticed was

last ten years as well as URBED’s experience working a range of

the loud music coming from the open doors and the group of

strategies and masterplans across the UK.

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Exploring Happiness

The Built Environment and Wellbeing The wellbeing agenda is not peripheral or a ‘nice bonus’ for the world of architecture, planning and urban design, it is a necessity. Elizabeth Burton founder director of WISE (Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments) at Warwick University tells us in her view why.

I was told on more than one occasion in design studio reviews to stop thinking about people and to see the building as sculpture

Pause a moment and think about your

and promoted. I staggered through my degree

favourite urban place. It may be indoors or

and went on to complete my professional

outdoors. It may be somewhere you go for

training, later taking up a research career

holidays or somewhere you visit regularly.

as it seemed to provide a better route for

Imagine being in this place now. How does it

developing an alternative design philosophy.

make you feel? If only we could capture what it is about this place that makes it so good,

Recent heated debate at a Cumberland Lodge

in order to recreate it in new development!

conference on ‘Hope in the Built Environment’

This is what we are trying to do in the WISE

(November 2009), involving some well-known

(Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments)

UK architects, convinced me that architecture as

research unit, now based at the University of

modern art is still the norm for the profession.

Warwick. I set up the unit in 2004, in order

It is interesting that even architects presenting

to investigate how the built environment

‘design for wellbeing’ speak in highly abstract

affects our wellbeing, health and quality of

terms, stating design benefits with no evidence

life, seeking to find aspects of design that are

base or user opinion. To be fair, I can see why

positive and to offer evidence-based guidance.

architecture has adopted this stance. The Modernists got such bad press. Yet, many

WISE grew out of my own disillusionment

of them, Le Corbusier included, very much

with common architectural thinking and

embraced their social agenda. On the whole,

education. When I began my architectural

they aimed to make life better for people, to

training at University at the age of 18 I thought

free housewives from the drudgery of their

– idealistically, you may say – that it was all

existence, and to lift people up into the sunshine

about making a better world for people. I soon

and fresh air. The problem was, well meaning

discovered that architecture was considered

as they were, they got it wrong. They got it

to be an art form. I was told on more than

wrong because their proposals were based on

one occasion in design studio reviews to stop

their own original ideas about what would work

thinking about people and to see the building

– none of these were tested or based on previous

as sculpture. Contrary to Bentham’s Utilitiarian

evidence of success. So what has happened

ideas of ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest

since then is that architects have retreated

number’, designing ‘to please the masses’ was

from their social role, denying that they are

almost the polar opposite of what was admired

engaging in any way with social engineering

24 – ISSUE 03

Exploring Happiness

or architectural determinism – after all, how

As for the activities of WISE, we are in the

arrogant it is to assume they know what is best

process of setting up a new Masters course

for people! It is much safer to claim the artist’s

on health and the built environment, which

role. What was more, towards the end of the

aims to train a new generation of designers

20th century the architectural profession as a

and practitioners in evidence-based design

whole was coming under threat because of new

and design for wellbeing. Initiatives in this

contractual arrangements such as ‘design and

area, mostly in the US, have been limited

build’ and the rise of the ‘project manager’.

to the design of healthcare facilities. There

Everyone and anyone can have a view on design

seems to be a lot of interest already in this

– compare this with the protected position of the

more generalised, multidisciplinary course.

medical consultant whose opinion is the final word. It is not surprising that architects further

Moving forward, there will be many challenges.

mystified their role by using a language that was

We need to find ways of turning research

increasingly specialised and obscure, delivering

findings into guidance that doesn’t unnecessarily

the message that not everyone could do the job!

inhibit creativity. We don’t want to foster a ‘one size fits all’ design solution that reduces

We are at the beginning of a new decade

environments to a lowest common denominator.

and never has the need to design our

It is essential for our research to address

environments for wellbeing been stronger.

the more intangible elements of design (e.g.

There are several reasons for this:

‘ugliness’) and to control for the many other influences on wellbeing. Design for wellbeing

1. Wellbeing is an integral part of

needs to allow for the many differences between

sustainability, and in order to address

people and to avoid conflicts with other worthy

climate change effectively we need to

requirements such as energy reduction and

design low energy environments that

historic conservation. But at the beginning of the

people want to live in and encourage

2010s, I issue a clarion call to all those interested

them to live more sustainably.

in the built environment, to actively pursue the

2. There is growing evidence of the

wellbeing of all people in society – ideals still

link between health and built

matter and we can build a better world . . . .

environments, particularly in relation to obesity problems and the need

For more information about WISE,

for ‘walkable’ neighbourhoods.

contact Elizabeth Burton (e.burton@warwick.

3. The social model of disability and related

ac.uk) or visit the website:

legislation has led to increased interest


in inclusive design or ‘design for all’.


4. We know now that continued economic growth is not necessarily going to make us happier so there is a new focus in policies worldwide on wellbeing and how it can be promoted. 25 – ISSUE 03

We know now that continued economic growth is not necessarily going to make us happier so there is a new focus in policies worldwide on wellbeing and how it can be promoted.

Exploring Happiness

urban scrawl Issue 3


26 – ISSUE 03

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