Designing Happiness: Architecture and urban design for joy and well-being

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Scientific studies exploring the environmental and experiential elements that help boost human happiness have become a significant and expanding body of work. Some urban designers, architects and planners are looking to apply this knowledge through policy decisions and design, but there is a great deal of room for further study and exploration. This paper looks at definitions of happiness and happiness measurements used in research. The paper goes on to introduce six environmental factors identified in a literature review that have design implications relating to happiness: Nature, Light, Surprise, Access, Identity, and Sociality. Architectural precedents are examined and design strategies are proposed for each factor, which are then applied to a test case site and building in Baltimore, Maryland. It is anticipated that these factors and strategies will be useful to architects, urban designers and planners as they endeavor to design positive user experiences and set city shaping policy.