Bureau de Mesarchitecture’s “Double Happiness”, an installation for the 2009 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial,

  Happiness is a very abstract concept, and every time changes. What makes happy a person doesn’t make happy another one. I have seen thousand of architecture projects that tend to solve big deals in the world, defining strategies, which are expected to produce a certain benefic effect in people. But at the end, most of them, when they are built, doesn’t work in the way they were supposed to. Happiness is a mixture of different things: being with people around who make us feel better, fulfill your expectations in life, have a nice job or an active life, a beloved family, friends, health… but at the end, architecture is like an anecdote in the middle of this. Following a research, made by the Prof. Ruut Veenhoven, Director of the Database and Emeritus professor of social conditions for human happiness at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, you tend to be happier if you fulfill some of the basic topics mentioned in that list.

  • Are in a long-term relationship
  • Are actively engaged in politics
  • Are active in work and in your free time
  • Go out for dinner
  • Have close friendships (though happiness      does not increase with the number of friends you have)

And there are some surprising findings:

  • People who drink in moderation are happier      than people who don’t drink at all.
  • Men tend to be happier in a society where      women enjoy greater equality.
  • Being considered good looking increases      men’s happiness more than it does women’s.
  • You tend to be happier if you think you’re      good looking, rather than if you actually, objectively speaking, are.
  • Having children lowers your happiness      levels, but your happiness increases when they grow up and leave home.



So after reading this list of elements made by a huge research institution, money is not in the list, and neither architecture. So perhaps the relationship of architecture and happiness is related more with the people and the activities involved inside of the places or cities that in the architectural elements itself. There is not an direct relationship with the infrastructure around us. Having a better house, or living in the most sustainable city in the world would produce a different effect in people, depending  on the relationship you had with the elements, components, activities and persons, contained in this architectural-urban environment. On  the other hand, Cities itself contain certain atmospheres  that make us feel better ourselves. We can classify the places, cities and countries, depending on how we felt visiting or living  them. But this effect is produced due to a process of centuries, that has generated a certain transformation in the cities. It is related with the people who is living inside  them, not because of the stones that built the city. They change with the people and the tendencies of them. We are who make the necessity of certain infrastructures, or buildings. We are who decide what do we need to feel better, to fulfill our spectators in life. We are who decide how could be the future of the new generations, even without noticing it. If a city is a amazing or a mess is because of the decisions taken by the people who are part of it. Politics are o the top of the pyramid for making decisions, but in democratic societies, who did chose them? the people living on the cities that are part of each contry. Can we do something to change the situation of a city to be happier or more sustainable? Yes we can. But is a matter of time. Change the way of thinking of the population take sometimes several generations. The deeper the  change should be, the more time will it take. Nowadays people is more concern with sustainability in terms of environmental friendly issues (energy, recycling, not waste basic elements, not pollute….etc) But what happens, with Social Sustainability? How can we look for a better life for us (the current generation) and at the same time, thinking on how to keep the same level of life for upcoming generations? We should look for the way of measuring if we are being “excessive”, to control this. But to know it we should study more the past, to compare ourselves with them, or with our current neighbors. We have to Check how the world was in ancient times, to realize if we are in the right way to produce a positive impact on the social future welfare.   Source Of the image. Bureau de Mesarchitecture’s “Double Happiness”, an installation for the 2009 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial