Are some streets kinder than others? A social test in Seattle

by Charles Montgomery on

How does the built environment influence how feel and behave? Our collaborators at Futurewise agreed that this is an important question for cities like Seattle, which has experienced rapid redevelopment of its core neighbourhoods in the last few years. The city has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build happiness into–or out of–these places. Historical studies have suggested that the design and programming of street edges can either draw people or repel them.… Continue reading

Building Happiness

by Charles Montgomery on

Whatever creates or increases happiness, or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.” — Aristotle There should be no question that happiness should be a worthy goal for city-builders. That’s the argument I make in Connected Worlds, a new book published for the International Festival for Business in Liverpool. Here’s the full essay in a… Continue reading

What is urban experimentalism?

by Charles Montgomery on

ex·per·i·men·tal·ism: noun 1/ reliance on or advocacy of experimental or empirical principles and procedures. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) 2/ an orientation that favors experimentation and innovation. Related to instrumentalism, a philosophy advanced by philosopher John Dewey, who held that the truth of a thing or idea lay in its usefulness. I began my search for the essence of the happier city as a journalist, searching for experts among planners, mayors, psychologists and… Continue reading

On the sunny side of the street

by Charles Montgomery on

Architects love to hate Disneyland for its shameless nostalgia and fakery. But psychologists and neuroscientists are fascinated by the place. Disney and his designers showed an uncanny understanding of the way that architecture affects emotions, neuroimmunologist Esther Sternberg told me. “They figured out in the 1950s and ’60s, long before we understood neuroscience, exactly how to use design to get people from a place of anxiety and fear to a… Continue reading

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