Wednesday, 7 January 2015

How to Design a Happier City

Charles Montgomery begins his new book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, on a bicycle ride in Bogota, Colombia, with former mayor Enrique Peñalosa.

While in office, Peñalosa implemented a number of policies quite progressive for that time and place. He scrapped plans for highways through the city. He built hundreds of miles of bike lanes. He made room for parks and pedestrian plazas.

Peñalosa's goal, explains Montgomery, was to make Bogotans happier. Montgomery's goal with Happy City is equally ambitious: to document whether urban policy and design can really influence well-being.

"For years, urban designers and architects have claimed happiness as
their goal," Montgomery says. "And yet none of the claims have been supported by empirical evidence. Which isn't to say they're not right. It's just to say that we don't know. That we haven't known."