UD1: The Happy City – Designing for Happiness

The upcoming 2018 International Urban Design Conference will be held at the SMC Conference and Function Centre, Sydney, NSW next month over 12 – 13 November.

The conference will showcase innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments.

Joining us at the conference is Miss Sofie Pringle, Urban Designer & PhD Researcher with Peddle Thorp & Qut who will present on ‘UD1: The Happy City – Designing for Happiness’.


Urbanisation and densification are some of the greatest challenges for humanity this century. Delivering density well is critical. There is opportunity within these contexts to revolutionise the way we plan and design our cities, and citizen happiness is key to this. In the highly dense and compact context, we look to develop best practice urban design standards and policy that advocates for better design quality, liveability, sustainability and community resilience. However, there is one crucial ingredient missing – designing for happiness.

Pilot research developed through QUT has explored urban design elements that people associate with their happiness. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used in the research project to identify features of urban environments around the world that people associated with happiness. These findings were tested through the pilot study conducted in Brisbane, which validated phase 1. Overall it found that there are linkages between particular urban design characteristics and the happiness of people in the urban environment. Some of which include colour, texture, materiality, water and other physical features within an urban context.

This pilot research highlights that design can enhance the happiness of users. Future urban and city design could be informed by ‘urban happiness’ principles that guide the creation of the happy city; one that is liveable and meets the needs of social sustainability.

We know that urban quality has been recognised as attracting great economic investment opportunity for cities. But has Australia considered the attractiveness of a happy city? In the age of globalisation, cities need to compete on difference and specialisation, designing for happiness could be this point of difference. The research contributes to improving urban design and guiding the design process to create happier, healthier places for people within cities. Density can be done well, if happiness is part of the equation.


Sofie Pringle is a designer at Peddle Thorp Architects and a PhD candidate undertaking research in urban happiness at Queensland University of Technology. Her research focuses on the relationships between density, happiness and urban design. Sofie has published research in the area of “urban happiness” which explores user happiness in urban settings, user perceptions, urban design (built and natural) characteristics that have an impact on user happiness.

From a design background, Sofie has a range of experience in master planning, residential, retail, mixed use and education projects at various scales of density. Sofie has the ability to extract, interpret and synthesize the client brief into a well-developed design that reflects end user needs for a long-term solution. She has a passion for creating environments that increase user happiness and improve quality of life, with long term strategies for growth.

For more information on the 2018 International Urban Design Conference and to secure your spot visit the conference website at urbandesignaustralia.com.au

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s