Charles Montgomery: Welcome to Happyville: How we can improve our lives by designing smart cities

Quoting in part:

“The lesson for anyone concerned about neighbourliness is that design really matters. We cannot be forced together. The richest social environments are those in which people feel free to edge closer to each other or move apart as we wish. When design offers clusters where we can hive off into smaller groups, we may stand a greater chance of connecting and building those powerful networks of local trust.

This does not mean that we need to stop building apartment towers. Many people thrive in residential towers. But it does mean we need to be more bold and experimental. We need to transcend our lazy reliance on the polar opposites of towers and single-family homes. We need to experiment with all forms of density; from townhouses, to courtyard clusters, to co-housing and other forms we’ve never seen before.

Cities have, for too long, served to push us apart. But nothing matters more to urban happiness and health than social relationships. We need to build for conviviality.”

National Post | Full Comment

Nearly 14 years ago, Rob McDowell bought a sky-high condominium in The 501, a hip, sleek apartment building in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighborhood. He was single and had no kids, so 500 square feet seemed quite enough, especially given the panoramic views from the windows of his 29th-story apartment. He could see the ocean. He could see islands in the distance. He could look over the other towers to the forested slopes of the North Shore Mountains. When the fog rolled in, he felt he was floating above it.

“I invited all my friends up there to see the view,” McDowell told me later. “I was so happy.”

But that changed as the months went past.

Whenever McDowell left his apartment, he would follow a hallway he shared with 20-odd people to an elevator bank he shared with nearly 300 people. When the elevator door opened, he could never be sure…

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One response to “Charles Montgomery: Welcome to Happyville: How we can improve our lives by designing smart cities

  1. Charles Montgomery’s book “Happy City” provides perspectives on how the built environment impacts our happiness. I strongly encourage anyone concerned about municipal decisions on land use to read it, especially if you live in the City of North Vancouver. Note that there are specific examples from our city in this book.

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