We shape our homes, and our homes shape us. They impact our happiness.
Our homes are often considered the holy constant in our human lives. When we’ve had a tough day at work, an unpleasant encounter at the grocery store or simply need a break from the ever-changing world we live in, home is often where we seek refuge and recharge our batteries. The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen has undertaken studies that highlight that 15% of our happiness comes from our homes. Does this then mean that staying home is an easy recipe for increasing happiness?
Well, the answer is both yes and no.
Our homes impact how we act and how we feel. In fact, the way architects, planners and engineers are designing residential areas contributes significantly to everyday people’s as well as society’s life satisfaction. So yes, your home is responsible for 15% of your happiness levels. But architects, planners and engineers have the potential to take your happiness levels even further than that. All they need is your home and a blueprint for what really makes for a happy home and neighbourhood.
Some time back, Ramboll UK surveyed their employees and their homes and found that the home played a vital role in their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. The key to making this role and impact a positive one is providing the best environments considered design. How do we necessitate that we place happiness as an end goal of designing and building? For starters, we must recognise and acknowledge the unmined potential that designing and building have, and the opportunities we can create to increase the quality of life by simply wanting to.
Happiness, wellbeing and life satisfaction are significant conditions not only to individuals. They are also crucial for creating a sustainable society. When people are happy and satisfied with their life, they are more engaged and committed to their family, community and society. This is evidently not only beneficial to the social fabric but, in extension, to even economic and political life. The happier we are, the better we thrive as a society, community, nation and world. The better we design and build our homes to allow us to reach a state of greater quality of life, the better we may thrive. By promoting the wellbeing of individuals, we promote a more sustainable future (Altomonte et al., 2020).
The promotion of wellbeing in real estate is the epitome of small changes, big impact. Creating a common shared space can change how a family interacts; it can increase a sense of togetherness, bring families closer, create a space for conversation and allow for moments of gratitude and laughs. If creating a common space can do all that, what other design hacks could impact our happiness? How do we create spaces and places that have a positive impact on our wellbeing? How do we improve quality of life through architecture, lighting, décor and furniture? Can we actually design for happiness?
By the very definition, design is a plan to show the function or workings of a place or an object before it is created. It is to imagine how a place, or a thing, could be different and how this difference may impact us. In short, it impacts the fabric of life and what makes life worth living. It is design that gives us the autonomy to create the lives we wish to live, to put wind in our sails when pursuing happiness. If we harness the power of design, we have the tools to improve our quality of life.
The way forward for property companies is the pursuit of embedding wellbeing into their strategies. Begin to place value and emphasis on the emotional dimensions of a home. How does it create a sense of pride, comfort, identity, safety and control? Do the build and design facilitate neighbourhood relations and contribute to a growing sense of community?
These are questions to ask in the real estate world to promote the wellbeing of residents and communities. Designing and building in this way is not only to imagine but also ensure activities that will positively impact people’s wellbeing can take place in the home. It is to secure 15% of happiness harvested from our homes, and to aim for even higher percentages by utilising the endless unlocked potential that the ways of design and building have to offer.