Happy City workshop with the World Health Organization

by Charles Montgomery on

After the release of Happy City in 2013, we received dozens of requests from policymakers and city-builders to translate lessons from the book into tools to help guide urban design. In response, we developed a new framework to bring well-being into design processes.

We were excited to roll out this framework at the WHO International Healthy Cities conference in Athens, Greece in October, 2014. Dozens of urban health wonks from around the world joined us in the shadow of the Acropolis. Christine McLaren led the proceedings.


Athens workshop








To guide the work, we provided the Happy City Framework, which draws lessons from public health, psychology, behavioural economics and neuroscience to outline key elements of urban wellbeing:

Happy City Framework wheel diagram

With felt pens in hand, participants rose to the challenge of the day: How can we build buildings, public spaces, mobility systems and other design realms that optimize social connections? They translated this challenge into debates, diagrams, designs and policy recommendations.

athens workshop drawingathens workshop crowd

Thanks to the participants for your energy and enthusiasm. We look forward to continuing this journey with WHO’s European Healthy Cities Unit.