COMMENT How does your home and neighbourhood make you feel? Ideally, it will make you feel comfortable and safe, part of a community that cares, with access to green spaces nearby. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
In the UK, to address the ongoing housing crisis, we are attempting to build 300,000 homes per year. That equates to 66,000 new homes for London alone. Faced with that challenge, it is all too easy to think in terms of the delivery of bricks and mortar — the number of housing units we can produce in a short space of time — and on the profits that go with that. But we cannot forget that the homes and neighbourhoods we are building today are going to have a profound effect on the people who live there and the wider environment for years to come.
Shaping people’s lives
As an architect, I have always been interested in the positive effect that good design can have on how people feel. But over the past few years, in particular in my work with the National Infrastructure Commission, I have come to realise how important the built environment is in shaping people’s lives and how intimately that is connected to the wider world.
Buildings and neighbourhoods that have a positive impact on how we feel are good not just for the people who live there, but the environment too.
As well as offering greater safety and comfort, and being more sociable, they are more energy-efficient, offer better public transport options and connect to the natural world in a way that reminds us we are not the only ones on this planet.
Quality of Life Foundation
That is why I have started the Quality of Life Foundation, a new, not-for-profit organisation whose purpose it is to raise people’s quality of life and wellbeing by improving our built environment.
Its aim is to work with large-scale developers, housebuilders and investors to come up with ways of improving how our buildings and communities are planned, procured and constructed. The foundation is committed to creating a new framework that brings about change. Learning from previous initiatives, its role will be to gather research and make recommendations that will make clear both the responsibilities and benefits of promoting quality of life.
To start, we will bring together an advisory board who represent a broad range of views across the public and private sectors. We have begun our search for eight board members who will meet quarterly for an initial 12-month engagement to develop a set of quality-of-life principles and to advise on the agenda of the foundation’s work.
The board will create a focus for debate, research and development of best practice guidance, with a strong focus on consumer experience. Members will come from a range of backgrounds, including wellbeing, environmental sustainability, consumer insight, architecture, urban design, community engagement, local government, tech entrepreneurship and property development.
Over the next year we will carry out research to work out quality-of-life principles and look at ways of affecting change in how the building industry works.
Bit by bit, we want to work with others to make a positive impact on our homes, communities and the wider world.
Professor Sadie Morgan is founder of architectural firm dRMM, chair of the Independent Design Panel for HS2, commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commission and commissioner of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission. For more on sustainability in real estate: EG Sustainability hub
Originally published at https://www.egi.co.uk on October 3, 2019.