How Urban Design Begets Happiness

A new book by Charles Montgomery makes the case that many of the best possible outcomes for the built environment require human interaction—whether commuting to work or walking around residential neighborhoods.
David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott / Flickr

Gloria Galloway interviews Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, in a recent article for the Globe and Mail. The book makes the case that the design of a city—its shapes and its systems--determines the happiness of its residents. Here are a few critical points from the interview:

  • “The core message of the book, which I hope can be comforting for policy makers and individuals, is the notion that the happier city and the greener city, the low-carbon city, and the resilient and rich city are all the same place.”
  • “If our cities are to succeed in the next century, we need to offer people who live in suburbs the same freedoms, the same opportunities, and the same generosities as people enjoy in the best central cities.”
  • “In subsidizing low-density, big-box sprawl – and this is what we do through our policies on urban highways and land-zoning development – we are actually pouring money into the least efficient urban forms.”
  • “People who live in residential towers are most likely to complain of feeling crowded and lonely at the very same time. So we need to be very careful about investing in the extremes in our cities – either building more big box sprawl on the urban fringe (or) verticalizing neighbourhoods and seeing the residential tower as the only affordable option. We need to find models in-between.”
Full Story: Charles Montgomery: How to make cities that make people happy


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