Around the world, city streets are being transformed into better places to walk, socialize and celebrate. People are trading dead street edges and dangerous asphalt for vibrant sidewalks, parklets and plazas that are expressions of new ideas about human happiness. But how do these changes influence the way we feel and treat other people? If we want to keep these wonderful spaces, we need evidence about how these interventions influence people’s emotions and interactions.
Happy Streets Living Lab: Presented by the City of Vancouver, MODUS, Urban Realities Laboratory and Happy City is an experiment at Project for Public Space’s Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference. It will combine research rigor with fun tours where participants learn about their own physical and emotional responses to the city. It is also a valuable opportunity to bring people from around the world together to learn best practices in creating happy spaces that promote social interaction and build trust.
The project partners are excited to share this innovative project with Project for Public Spaces and all Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place attendees. The experiment also offers conference participants the opportunity to see more of Vancouver, including a number of inspiring interventions undertaken by the City of Vancouver through their VIVA Vancouver initiative.
MODUS is a leading planning, design and engagement firm in Vancouver that is passionate about achieving sustainability by focusing on the places that people live, and how they live. “We believe that great public spaces have the ability to foster deep engagement and connections to one’s community, while also generating feelings of well-being. It will be fascinating to see these beliefs ‘put to the test’ in the Happy Streets Living Lab,” said MODUS Principal and Engagement Specialist Vince Verlaan.“ This research aligns with MODUS’ core objective of moving “from insight to impact” to create a lasting legacy of healthy, sustainable, and prosperous communities.”
Each tour will end with a group discussion of the data collected during the tour and the implications for urban planning, and public health and safety. Preliminary results of all data collected will be shared with conference participants.
The experiment is part of a University of Waterloo research project, led by Dr. Colin Ellard, Director of the Urban Realities Laboratory (URL) in the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo. URL has conducted similar studies in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Berlin, Mumbai and Toronto as a part of its mandate to understand the influence of urban design on the psychological state of urban residents. “We are very excited to share our methodology in Vancouver and to further explore its potential for understanding how the design of city streets can influence urban life.”
Charles Montgomery, Principal at Happy City and author of the book, Happy City, is thrilled with the prospect of testing the experiment at Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place. “This conference is the ideal setting to continue refining and building on the psycho-physiological experiments that began in New York and continued in Berlin. The opportunity to conduct this public space experiment with 90 of the world’s leading urbanists – and share the results with 1000+ – in Vancouver, my home, is invaluable.”
Space for this free experiment is limited. Register to confirm you opportunity to participate in this groundbreaking psycho-physiological public space research!
* This study has been reviewed by and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee. However the final decision to participate is yours.