New report reveals key factors for a happy home

Happy Home report reveals key criteria for achieving wellbeing in homes. Image by Super Straho on Unsplash

A new report from global sustainable design and engineering consultancy Ramboll and international studio for architecture, landscape and urbanism Henning Larsen has revealed key criteria for achieving wellbeing in homes.

The inaugural Happy Home report identifies the five key drivers that influence residents’ happiness in their homes and communities. 

Produced in partnership with Danish think-tank, The Happiness Research Institute, the Happy Home research has been developed following the institute’s GoodHome report, which found 15% of happiness is correlated with our homes.

Happy Home builds on these findings, revealing the five qualities within homes and neighbourhoods that have the most positive impact on residents’ wellbeing. These are:

  1. Balancing private and communal spaces.
  2. Personalising the physical layout.
  3. Sensing nature from the home.
  4. Experiencing local identity.
  5. Engaging in process and decision making.

Based on in-depth interviews with row-housing residents in Birmingham, UK and Copenhagen, Denmark, the Happy Home report includes a toolbox of spatial and policy recommendations to achieve maximum happiness in homes. 

These recommendations can be embedded throughout a home’s lifecycle, including incorporating the resident’s perspective in the design process to increase the likelihood of them experiencing positive emotions in their homes on a daily basis. 

Key suggestions from the report include the creation of ‘semi-private’ spaces, such as front gardens, to create a bridge between private and communal areas, the use of ‘green views’ to bring nature inside the home and accessibility to local amenities via well-designed foot or bicycle routes.

With the government looking to reform the planning system with the Planning for the Future white paper and the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Ramboll is calling for planning for wellbeing and happiness to be enshrined in policy. 

Ramboll adds that a people-centric, ecological approach to designing homes and neighbourhoods will impact on residents’ happiness and encourage them to be active participants in their local community. 

Gorana Shepherd, director for cities and regeneration at Ramboll, said: “The study has reinforced the need for engineers, planners and designers to think of homes as more than just a house. True sustainability allows both people and nature to flourish and embedding wellbeing in the built form will be key in achieving this. 

“To drive this concept of sustainability we will need multi-faceted collaboration across the built environment sector and bring in knowledge complementary professions.”

Adam Selvey, Ramboll’s design excellence leader, added “The significant portion of our wellbeing that comes from our homes has long been ignored within the construction sector. 

“Our homes are the most important place we will inhabit, so from the outset of a project happiness needs to be considered in the design processes. The Happy Home report is a crucial first step and provides a much-needed blueprint for building homes and communities that are truly receptive to the needs of their inhabitants.”

Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute, said the built environment has been “an overlooked tool in improving people’s wellbeing and mental health”.

“I am really excited about our new report,” he said.

“During the pandemic I think more of us understood the importance of our homes to our wellbeing and now with the world seeming so turbulent it makes good sense to focus on a place we can influence: our homes."

The findings from the report will be discussed further at Ramboll’s Building Happiness Into Homes webinar on November 1. 

Click here to find out more and read the report

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