‘Happy Home’ report reveals key criteria to achieve wellbeing in homes

5 October 2022

Ramboll, Henning Larsen and Danish think-tank The Happiness Research Institute reveal the qualities within homes and neighbourhoods that positively impact residents’ wellbeing in the inaugural research report ‘Happy Home’.

Happy Home

Happy Home

As a global sustainable society consultant, Ramboll is bringing social value to the forefront of the built environment by teaming up with Henning Larsen and The Happiness Research Institute to develop the research ‘Happy Home’.

The research builds upon The Happiness Research Institute’s 2019 The GoodHome report which found that 15% of happiness is correlated with our homes. From this, the Happy Home research presents what homes and neighbourhoods should possess to make the most positive impact on people’s wellbeing:

  1. Balancing private and communal spaces
  2. Personalising the physical layout
  3. Sensing nature from the home
  4. Experiencing local identity
  5. Engaging in process and decision making

Toolbox for spatial and planning policies

Based on in-depth interviews with row-housing residents in Birmingham, UK and Copenhagen, Denmark, the Happy Home report includes a toolbox of spatial and policy recommendations to achieve maximum happiness in homes. These recommendations can be embedded throughout a home’s lifecycle, including incorporating the resident’s perspective in the design process to increase the likelihood of them experiencing positive emotions in their homes on a daily basis. 

Key suggestions from the report include the creation of ‘semi-private’ spaces, such as front gardens, to create a bridge between private and communal areas, the use of ‘green views’ to bring nature inside the home, and accessibility to local amenities via well-designed foot or bicycle routes.

Designing for sustainable behaviours

With the government looking to reform the planning system with the Planning for the Future white paper and the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Ramboll is calling for planning for wellbeing and happiness to be enshrined in policy. A people-centric, ecological approach to designing homes and neighbourhoods will impact residents’ happiness and encourage them to be active participants in their local community. 

Focusing on single issues, such as driving down the energy use of homes means that the current approach to building regulations ignores the wider impact on residents’ carbon footprint. Whilst it is important to reduce embodied carbon in buildings and reduce the energy consumption of homes through efficient design, this may not always lead to a reduced personal carbon footprint.

If the design of a place is not thought about holistically, this can discourage healthy behaviour changes and, in turn, increases emissions elsewhere as people choose to drive instead of walking or cycling as these healthier, more sustainable travel options are less convenient.

Download Happy Home report and watch the webinar recording

Ramboll and the Happy Home research partners and stakeholders joined the Building Happiness Into Homes webinar on 24 November 2022 from 10 am to 11am (GMT), where they discussed the findings from the report and the most influential design considerations that create happiness. The role of local authorities, developers, planners, architects and engineers in incorporating these into the design to ensure a happy home for everyone was also explored.

The webinar is of interest to anyone involved in the planning, design and implementation of homes and neighbourhoods.

Download the ‘Happy Home’ report and watch the webinar recording

Happy Home research partners

The research has been developed by Ramboll, Henning Larsen and The Happiness Research Institute with funding from Ramboll, the Ramboll Foundation and Realdania. The research was also made possible through close collaboration with the University of Birmingham, housing associations Bournville Village Trust and Clarion Housing and regeneration company Urban Splash Group Ltd.

Commenting on the report, Gorana Shepherd, Director for Cities and Regeneration at Ramboll said: “The study has reinforced the need for engineers, planners and designers to think of homes as more than just a house. True sustainability allows both people and nature to flourish and embedding wellbeing in the built form will be key in achieving this. To drive this concept of sustainability we will need multi-faceted collaboration across the built environment sector and bring in knowledge complementary professions.”

Adam Selvey, Ramboll’s Design Excellence Leader commented “The significant portion of our wellbeing that comes from our homes has long been ignored within the construction sector. Our homes are the most important place we will inhabit, so from the outset of a project, happiness needs to be considered in the design processes. The Happy Home report is a crucial first step and provides a much-needed blueprint for building homes and communities that are truly receptive to the needs of their inhabitants.”

Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute added: "I think the built environment has been an overlooked tool in improving people’s wellbeing and mental health - so I am really excited about our new report. During the pandemic, I think more of us understood the importance of our homes to our wellbeing and now with the world seeming so turbulent it makes good sense to focus on a place we can influence: Our homes."


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