Emotions in place: why do visitors to New York have a different physical reaction to streets than locals?

by Charles Montgomery on

My friend Colin Ellard has just issued final results for Testing, Testing, his study of the psychophysiological effects of public space in New York City, Berlin and Mumbai. The results are fascinating, and should lead to more adventurous work in the field. When we started this experiment at the BMW Guggenheim Lab back in 2011, we wanted to measure how various environments in the Lower East Side affected people’s arousal… Continue reading

Trust: experimenting with the invisible ingredient for thriving cities

by Charles Montgomery on

Back in the fall of 2011, when my collaborators and I began planning an evening of hot chocolate, intimate confessions, and extreme hugging at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in New York City, some people seemed baffled. What did any of this have to do with the Lab’s mandate, which was to explore the future of cities? The answer is that we were exploring one of the most important questions concerning… Continue reading

Vancouver plans for social connections

by Charles Montgomery on

Cities are realizing that social connections are a key driver of well-being. The City of Vancouver has tried to turn this truth into action. Last year the city formed an Engaged City Task Force. We were pleased to see that the team took inspiration from Happy City. Read the report here. The team recognized that it’s not enough to get neighbours talking to each other. Government needs to join the conversation. We need new… Continue reading

Airport altruism: chasing happiness on the way to somewhere else

by Charles Montgomery on

I have to thank Paul Zak for inspiring my latest piece in enRoute Magazine. Paul is the neuroscientist whose book, The Moral Molecule explores the incredible role that the hormone oxytocin plays in human behaviour. Its lesson is straightforward: our brains reward us for being nice to other people. As I explain in the story, Paul is not a shy guy. He lives the lessons of his science, which means… Continue reading

Green, Grey and the Good City: learning from Berlin

by Charles Montgomery on

On a blustery, rainy July day, more than 40 people showed up to join an urbanist experiment at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin. I was amazed to see them. For one thing, the weather was miserable. For another, none of them knew exactly what they were about to be subject to. This, I learned, was typical. Berliners are up for it, especially if they suspect they will get a… Continue reading

Author Archives: Charles Montgomery