The Happiness Creators: building a different future
How much does our environment impact our happiness? When you look at some of the external influences that can cause stress or spark joy, you get a clear idea of how smart planning a community can affect these factors and why it’s become so important.
Happiness is a concept that drives so much of our lives. Personal happiness, as well as the happiness of our friends, family and community is likely to be pretty high at the top of a ‘life goals’ wish list, and this can determine decisions and choices we frequently make. But how much impact does our environment have on our happiness? Sometimes, the smallest details of our surroundings can influence us in big ways, and understanding the impact can not only offer big wins in personal happiness but also highlight just how master-planned communities encourage residents’ happiness.
Mark Holland, of the Healing Cities Institute, asserts that the built forms and natural spaces of where we live are key to promoting residents’ physical, emotional and mental health – in a word, their happiness. You don’t have to think too hard to make a note of the things in life that irk or frustrate you, or moments that bring you joy, and this is exactly the kind of thought process Lendlease engages when planning communities. Lendlease has developed communities that have happiness at their core – and their residents are reaping the benefits.
Life is beautiful
It will come as little surprise that getting outdoors and taking in the scenery is often recommended for relieving stress and boosting your mood. And it’s not only the fresh air that can be thanked for this – experiencing beauty, whether man-made or natural, can have positive effects on your overall wellbeing. Science proves that a feeling of connectedness to your surroundings benefits cognition and health, too. The positive impact of open green space and beautiful surroundings is one of the key drivers of the design process of master-planned communities. They are specifically designed and planned so that each home is within 400m of accessible and inclusive parks, not only to encourage residents’ recreation and interaction but also to create a sense of space and populate the community as a whole with natural beauty. Even the streetscapes are designed to incorporate beauty, with service corridors along roads and streets that make space for trees and plants, as well as greenways and streetscapes incorporating public art and plants. This dedication to aesthetics and overarching smart design highlights how master-planned communities make happiness a priority.
You can’t deny the impact a sense of belonging has on happiness. We all know the way a tea with a friend or neighbour can lighten the load of a hard day. And what’s a weekend without catching up with your mates for a barbecue or picnic in the park? Australia’s value of mateship confirms this way of thinking and recognises the way that friendships can often morph into more of a family network. The importance of fostering community spirit is the cornerstone of a master-planned community’s design. With an abundance of accessible and inclusive communal spaces a mere stone’s throw from all the dwellings, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know fellow residents. Sprouthub in Alkimos Beach, WA, is one such community hub. Equipped with a kiosk and built-in multimedia, it’s designed to support local groups and clubs, creating a culture of contribution and getting local people involved. These spaces are also able to host activities like fitness classes, televised events, food trucks and markets, so there’s always something happening and a forum to meet new faces. From the moment the spaces are planned, key details are included or excluded to ensure that residents are able to interact and feel connected to the wider community. Communities are more than just their physical form – they’re spaces for residents to foster great relationships with each other, love where they live and enjoy a stress-free lifestyle.
Beat the rush
Oh to do without the traffic jam that often bookends the day – one of life’s great annoyances that’s also an instant headache. It’s these kinds of factors that can heighten stress and anxiety and, though often we can’t control these external influences, it pays to recognise their impact on happiness. So, perhaps you can’t control the traffic on the roads outside of your community, but once you’re inside a master-planned space, you’ll find that the roads have been specifically designed to disperse traffic and ease congestion. Thanks to higher-order road design via a grid network, traffic flow disperses across multiple roads and streets that dissect the community spaces allow less traffic, improving the liveability of these spaces.
Environment has such a strong impact on our happiness and so, when you live in a community that values streamlined design, supports local economies as well as home-based businesses, that feeling of things falling into place just clicks. Master-planned communities tick off these ideals, via the strategic planning of all spaces to create strong foundations for local businesses to grow on and encouraging residents to use their homes as their offices. The sites are designed with high-quality cabling offering fast online connections and free WiFi is often made available in the communal areas. With a frequent offering of small-business workshops, social-media workshops as well as talks that target working for over 45s, consideration for the residents goes beyond the built environment and taps into the bigger-picture needs of the people who live there. The communities often also include spaces for performance, creativity, exhibitions, civic functions and public art. This forward-thinking approach makes for easy adjustment to the fast-paced, switched-on world of today.
Convenience wins, every time
Having everything you need, right at your fingertips quickly equates to a feeling of contentment. We’ve all experienced that rush of anxiety when time seems to be ticking and you need to make your appointment. The stress of running late can pump up the blood pressure and lead to feeling anxious, so knowing your best route is key. So when you’re sure of exactly where you need to get to and how you’re going to get there, some of that stress evaporates. Thanks to the addition of public transport stops within 400m of every home, getting where you need to go is simple and stress free. A master-planned community features design that prioritises this from the word go. A focus on convenience and connection during initial planning stages ensures that residents will eventually have an easy and accessible transport option close by. Sure, you may still fight the daily battle of getting out the door on time, but you happily don’t have to walk too far to make the bus.
Being aware of the influences that can cause tension or spark joy in our surroundings ensures we’ll be able to take early steps to avoid the negative but also gives a clear indication of the way a master-planned community can dim the lows and turn up the volume of the best bits of life. At its core, a strong and well-planned community is a happy community.
To learn more about Alkimos Beach or other master-planned communities, visit the website.