Good design makes us happy

May 7, 2015

Design for Auckland

The design of our neighbourhoods, parks, streets and even our buildings have a huge impact on how we live our lives. Throughout the world we are only beginning to understand how the decisions we make in organising the elements of our city, and the design of these places, can affect our health and future happiness.

Happy city 1

Wynyard Quarter


When it comes to design, we often think of our homes, buildings, parks, open spaces and streets in isolation – yet experientially they are perceived collectively. It’s a montage of buildings, streetscapes and landscaping, which all swirls together to form the character of our neighbourhoods and our city. Done well, this can have incredibly pleasing results. Done badly, it can be an unsafe and unhealthy place for people to be in.

happy city 6

View Road Mt Eden


Well-designed cities have an impact on our wellbeing, our lifestyles and our happiness. This is because the design of your city can affect so many aspects of your life.

  • It can save you time on your journey to work.
  • It can make it easier to connect with your friends and acquaintances.
  • It can help to reinforce healthy habits and help make exercise part of your daily routine.
  • It can enhance people’s safety on the street.
  • It can reduce home robberies.
  • It can make cities a safe place for children.
  • It can promote better relationships with you neighbours.
happy city 7

Glen Eden Station


Council’s Design Champion, Ludo Campbell-Reid, explains “If you want to understand how design can affect happiness, I advise you do your own trial. Walk down a busy street dominated by vehicular traffic, framed by blank walls, with tree-less pavements, multiple car park exits and tinted windows, such as Albert Street or Hobson Street.  Then contrast this with your experience as you walk down a tree lined street where pedestrians are treated courteously and businesses have welcoming active frontages, such as Elliot Street or O’Connell Street. Which street makes you feel happier?”

hobson street

Hobson Street, CBD

oconnell street

O’Connell Street, CBD


Maximising design, whether it’s your home, street or public spaces, needn’t cost the earth. It’s about making smart and informed decisions that get the most from the money you have and space you have available.

It’s about getting support and guidance at the right time, to ensure you achieve the most sustainable result, with long term benefits.

It’s about designing buildings, streets, open spaces that improve and enhance your neighbourhood, your street, your city so that we flourish together.

It’s not about short-term hits – it’s about building for improved wellbeing – that promote balanced, resilient and supportive neighbourhoods through design.

happy city 9

Winery Lane, Henderson


The design of our city really can affect the way we function as a people. Charles Montgomery, Author of Happy City, Sums up “the messages encoded in architecture and systems can foster a sense of mastery or helplessness.”

It’s Aucklanders that build Auckland – so we need to tap into the people who live in Auckland to encourage, share and support our city to ensure the way we design and construct the city in the future improves our lifestyles and builds happy communities.

Happy city 5

Auckland Domain


Wynyard Quarter



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