Happiness index. How to understand, measure and increase happiness in cities

/ Urbanism /

Where would we like to live - in 25-story faceless "people's houses" but close to the subway, or in low-rise housing with visually diverse architecture but on the outskirts? What kind of city center do we want to see - a businesslike, energetic one, but suffocating in traffic jams, or a green zone closed to cars? Where do we want to spend our leisure time - in a shopping mall, at the stadium, in a cafe, or planting vegetables in the city gardens?

There will be no definitive answer, but rather an endless array of subjective opinions. Social urbanists are faced with a seemingly impossible task: to develop a roadmap that will make our lives in cities happier, while maintaining a balance of interests. That's why analysts use statistical data to create ratings and reports, and analyze existing urban models into thousands of small details. So that we can then choose what we personally like.

Oslo Mekaniske Verksted restaurant. Photo: Tord Baklund.
Image source: visitoslo.com

Smiling faces, children's laughter, birds singing, water murmuring, floral scents, the smell of muffins and freshly ground coffee, the opportunity to have a glass of wine or beer overlooking the sunset, beautiful architecture - no matter how different our happy moments and ideas about happiness are, something from the list will always be common to most.

Pessimists call attempts to translate the holistic philosophy of happiness into a set of practical recommendations the most popular utopia of the twenty-first century. They are opposed by a cohort of optimists who believe that digital data and new research models will finally allow for a fairly representative assessment of such a subjective concept as happiness, or at least the quality of life and well-being. From fiction, the theme of the search for happiness has moved to economic reports and urban planning documents. Innovators propose to replace even the assessment of society's well-being, which is traditionally based on consumption statistics, with a "happiness index."

In 2019, Finland was recognized as the happiest country in the world, and Ukraine ranked 133rd in the list

Goodbye, GDP, hello, happiness!

The small kingdom of Bhutan initiated the replacement of the usual criterion for assessing the development of countries and cities with the GDP by the "happiness index". The term "gross national happiness" was introduced in Bhutan back in 1972 and a ministry of the same name was established. Back then, it was an isolated, underdeveloped country. Since then, Bhutan hasn't changed much, except that it has become a little more open to tourists.

Nevertheless, the people of the kingdom, deprived of many of the benefits of civilization that we are accustomed to, confidently declare that they are almost universally happy and satisfied with everything. In 2012, the United Nations, at the request of Bhutan, released the first global report on happiness, which combined all the information available at the time and a scientific review of the relationship between urban planning and economic policies and happiness.

Since then, for seven years in a row, the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Unit has been releasing the World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens are. In 2019, Finland was recognized as the happiest country in the world, and Ukraine was ranked 133rd in the list.

The new approach fundamentally changes the way we evaluate the actions of heads of state and the success of the government in general, and as a result, it can provoke tectonic shifts in world politics. The fact that skepticism about "happiness ratings" in politics is still a variant of the norm, but open criticism of them is perceived almost as sabotage and spitting in the face of civilized humanity.

Assessing the state of countries, cities, and politicians through the lens of happiness is not just a trend, but a part of global politics. The latest report of the international organization Global Happiness Council - Global Happiness and Well-being Policy Report (GHWPR) was presented at the World Government Summit on February 10, 2019 in Dubai.

As one of the report's authors, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, said in his opening remarks: "We have long known that GDP per capita is not a good measure of social well-being. We now have rigorous and proven alternatives to measure happiness and well-being, and public policies that can successfully improve them."

We have known for a long time that GDP per capita is not a proper measure of social well-being

According to the IMF, global output (and thus global income) in 2018 amounted to $135 trillion, based on purchasing power. If we divide this amount by 7.7 billion people on the planet, we get $17,500 per person. US dollars per person. But the era of prosperity has not arrived, and the reason is the great inequality in the distribution of global income. "The world has never been so rich!" the authors of the report say, summarizing that the unregulated pursuit of economic growth is the cause of new forms of unhappiness.

The Global Happiness and Well-being Policy Report (GHWPR) is interesting because its authors, although they recognize that none of the research methods for measuring happiness can be called fully adequate and representative, provide a number of practical recommendations for creating happy cities. The skeleton of the umbrella model proposed by the GHWPR consists of six areas: health, education, work, personal happiness, cities, and metrics of well-being and happiness in society.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, co-author of the World Happiness Report 2019 and Happiness and Well-being Policy Report 2019, Director of the Global Happiness Council, SDSN and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, USA

For example, assessing the quality of health care through the prism of happiness is likely to lead to an increase in budgets for mental health care, palliative care, and pain management. Education should become "positive" and emphasize the joy of creation, creativity, and enjoyment of the thinking process.

Work should bring not only economic success to the company, but also satisfaction to employees, and a balance between personal life and employment should be maintained. Personal happiness is the most subjective category, including health and the possibility of self-realization.

The Happy Cities Algorithm is an overview of 6 aspects of urban design, including urban planning, contact with nature, mobility, sustainability, culture, and quality of services. The algorithm itself can be viewed as a set of practical recommendations for urbanists and civic activists. It is this point that falls within our area of interest.


Recommendations of the Global Happiness and Well-being Policy Report (GHWPR) from the Global Happiness Council (GHC)

Designing happy cities:

  1. Urban Design & Place Making. Ensure that sound urban planning and urban design guidelines, such as mixed-use, transit-oriented development, are promoted and encouraged. Take steps to increase the sense of community and follow guidelines for creating public spaces.
  2. Nature. Increase the amount of green and blue space at all scales, including small spaces such as rooftops. Increase opportunities for citizens to connect with nature.
  3. Mobility. Ensure that residents and visitors have access to a variety of transportation options, reduce dependence on cars, and promote the fact that using public transportation reduces costs.
  4. Sustainability & Partnership. To achieve a long-term and sustainable increase in happiness in a city, officials and politicians need to work with civil society organizations, activists, and residents interested in improving the quality of life.
  5. Culture. City managers should actively promote cultural events, both directly as organizers and indirectly by supporting civic activists.
  6. Quality of service. City managers must ensure the high quality of citywide services, user-centered digital services, and strive to maximize their usability and accessibility standards.

Launching happy cities:

  1. Trust. Strengthen the trusting relationship between city residents and the authorities by increasing engagement and transparency.
  2. Safety and security. Improving actual safety and subjective feelings of safety can be achieved by expanding initiatives to create more open and well-lit places.
  3. Affordability. Ensure the construction of affordable housing for all segments of society by increasing the diversity of housing types and a variety of financing methods.
  4. Tolerance and inclusiveness. Provide equal access opportunities for all categories of the population.
  5. Health & Life Balance. Promote a healthy lifestyle, encourage active travel, and a lifestyle with a reasonable balance of work, leisure, and personal life.
  6. Sociality. Build community connections and good neighborliness at all levels. Provide opportunities for people to meet and socialize more often, and actively fight loneliness.
  7. Economy and skills. Help people to actively participate in the development of the city's economy by providing training and education skills, as well as encouraging employment and business initiatives.
  8. Significance and belonging. Promote shared values, experience and significance of the role of residents in the community and citywide. Use cultural events to integrate new residents and migrants into the community.

To identify the cities that best meet the very vague criteria of "happiness," the authors of the GHWPR report suggest using the phrase socially-smart. Here, social orientation comes to the fore, displacing efficiency.

Work should be enjoyable for employees, and there should be a balance between personal life and employment

Progressive cities form public participatory budgets for these purposes, allocating part of the funds from the municipal treasury and replenishing them with private donations. Activists and volunteers are involved in the implementation of urban and cultural initiatives. For example, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, with a population of 1.5 million people, the participatory budget is about $200 million. For comparison, the participatory budget of Kyiv, where 2.94 million people officially live, is 150 million hryvnias in 2019!


Vienna is the undisputed leader in happiness rankings

For the past 7 (!) years, Vienna has been leading the Quality of Living Survey, a ranking of cities around the world by quality of life, which is annually compiled by the Mercer consulting agency. This fact makes us delve deeper into the study of the Vienna model.

The former imperial capital is now striving to become not just a global city, but a city with the best living conditions, one might say, an ideal city. And not from the point of view of tourists, who sometimes call Vienna "boring," but primarily from the point of view of the residents themselves.

The summer terrace of the popular Viennese restaurant Clementine in the Palais Coburg hotel. Photo source: wien.info

A politically and socially secure environment and a high-quality healthcare system are certainly cornerstones of comfort. But there are dozens of more subtle urban vectors, soft factors, that do not allow Vienna to be encapsulated in the format of a "bourgeois city-museum" but make it develop dynamically enough to keep up with global urban trends.

At the same time, urban planners approach reforms in a balanced manner, which helps to avoid serious shocks and discontent among the population. Thus, Vienna has avoided "brusselization," and the city has preserved and adapted its rich historical architectural heritage to the modern lifestyle. Today, the Austrian capital is home to just under 2 million people. At the same time, buildings occupy only 11.4% of the city's area, while public parks account for more than 28%.

It is no coincidence that Vienna's public transportation system is considered one of the best in the world: during rush hours, transport runs steadily at 90-second intervals, and routes (28 trams and 128 buses) evenly cover the center and suburbs. Vienna's metro is actively developing: in September 2017, 5 new stations were opened, from Reimannplatz to Oberlaa, and in the near future, the construction of a new U5 line is planned. Its first stations are due to open in 2023. At the same time, the authorities are trying to regulate the use of private vehicles, supporting the Car-Free City Life trend.

For the last 7 years, Vienna has been leading in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey

A single ticket is valid for all forms of public transportation, including the subway. In 2015, the Wien Hauptbahnhof Central Station was opened, bringing together all the rail routes and conveniently connecting to the U-Bahn subway. The new station was designed by Theo Hotz Architects and Planners on the site of the old Südbahnhof and Ostbahnhof railway stations.

The implementation of a large-scale infrastructure project made it possible to free up more than 30 hectares of land in the heart of the city, where a new residential area Sonnwendviertel is being built with houses for 13 thousand residents, a park, and an educational campus.

The Wien Hauptbahnhof, Vienna's new central train station, opened in 2015. Photo: Christian Hofer

About a third of the apartments in the new Sonnwendviertel are municipal. Vienna's authorities continue to adhere to the housing policy that was formed by the Social Democrats in the first half of the 20th century. The first Heimdbau municipal housing estates built during the Red Vienna era were designed by both well-known and young architects, followers of Otto Wagner and graduates of the Bauhaus school.

Some buildings tend to be imperial or Secessionist in style, but they cannot be called "typical" in any case. The most famous building, which is often mentioned as a monument to the social democratic system, is the Karl-Marx-Hof, a 1,100-meter-long building with 1,300 apartments. Designed for the proletarians, the municipal housing, built in the early to mid-century of the last century, is comfortable even by today's standards.

Some houses have rooftop swimming pools and inner gardens and look very bourgeois in our eyes. In 1949, Vienna introduced the "Art in Construction" rule, which stipulates that part of the budget for the construction of a municipal building is allocated for its decoration. It could be frescoes, mosaics, stained glass windows-in short, anything that gives the building an individuality.

Vienna's public transportation system is considered one of the best in the world

Monthly rents for municipal apartments are two or even three times lower than the average market rent from a private owner, but to qualify for municipal housing, you must meet a number of criteria. According to Statistik Austria, the average rent in Vienna, including operating costs, in the third quarter of 2018 was EUR 7.9 per square meter or EUR 518.7 per rented apartment.

In total, there are about a million apartments in Vienna, almost half of which are owned by the municipality or building societies. By the way, the lack of affordable housing, according to the GHWPR 2019 report, is the main obstacle to happiness. In Vienna, this problem has been almost solved.

Vienna's municipal housing: the Alt-Erlaa complex was built between 1973 and 1985 for low-income residents. The three cascading blocks of 23-27 floors contain 3,200 family apartments (mostly with three bedrooms). Each of the apartments from the 1st to the 12th floor has an open green terrace. The project was designed by the architects Harry Glück & Partner, Kurt Hlaweniczka and Requat & Reinthaller. Photo: Rafael Wiedenmeier / Getty Images

Having formulated the main goal-horizon for 2050 as "The best quality of life for all residents of Vienna with minimal resource consumption," formal and informal urbanists are improving the city by focusing on meeting the interests of different social and gender groups. For example, gender mainstreaming has had an unexpected impact on urban planning.

Back in 1996, the city authorities decided to find out why there were so many more boys than girls playing in parks. It turned out that boys and girls have different ideas about the comfort of play spaces: for example, girls are less likely to play on fenced sports grounds, preferring cozy semi-enclosed park areas. A small study has given rise to serious reforms that go beyond the modernization of parks.

Vienna has practically solved the problem of providing citizens with affordable housing

A residential complex called Women-Work-City was even built with residential buildings surrounded by spacious and green courtyards. All the paths are wide enough for families to walk together, and the absence of barriers and stairs allows for free movement with a stroller. The complex has a kindergarten, a pharmacy and a family doctor's office.

In 1999, the municipality conducted a survey among residents on accessibility and mobility. Women expressed the most complaints. In their opinion, Vienna's streets were not well lit in the evenings, not "barrier-free" enough, and not safe enough.

Based on this information, more than 60 projects have been implemented to make sidewalks, transportation, infrastructure, and recreational areas more accessible to women and women with children. No wonder David Byrne, author of the book "The Whole World. Notes of a Motorist, noted that children can be considered an indicator of the quality of the urban environment: "A city that is good for children is good for everyone."

At the top of each of the 27-storey cascading blocks of the Alt-Erlaa municipal residential complex is an outdoor pool. Photo source: i.pinimg.com

Social inclusion and mobility are key factors in the high quality of life for older people, so the city of Vienna pays maximum attention to caring for the older generation. At the same time, they are doing a lot to make the city attractive to young people.

Average rent in Vienna in the third quarter of 2018 amounted to EUR 7.9 per sq m

The rejuvenation of Vienna's demographics is largely due to higher education. According to the Vienna Business Agency, more than 190,000 students from all over the world live on Vienna's campuses. And the annual international Pioneers festival brings together more than 2,500 young entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives of companies from more than 70 countries. The idea of the event is to ensure the synergy of the latest technologies and business.

The playground for adults (Motorikpark) in Helmut-Zilk-Park, located in the Vienna residential district of Sonnwendviertel. Photo source: redsearch.org

Although Austria is far from being as open to accepting migrants as Germany, for example, it is willing to accept young representatives of the creative class, including Ukrainians.

"Creativity and creative professions in Vienna are supported and subsidized by the state and various foundations. There is even a simplified scheme for obtaining a residence permit for people who have contributed to the cultural space of Vienna," says Anna, who worked as an art studio manager in Kyiv for 10 years and has now opened an art studio in the Austrian capital. "Yes, the language and laws are different, but your success depends not on corrupt officials or patrons in the government, but on perseverance, determination, and talent. And the environment, both social and urban, is very favorable. All residents of Vienna are socially protected, and this is probably the basis of the highest quality of life here."

More than 190 thousand students from all over the world live on the Vienna campuses

As part of the Citizen Science program, the Austrians are trying to improve conditions not only for people but also for urban animals, birds, and insects. For example, architects have developed recommendations for arranging shelters for sicklebacks not only in new buildings, but also ways to adapt decorative consoles on historic buildings to make them accessible for nesting birds.

Another initiative that is also a success with citizens and especially local schoolchildren is the installation of insect houses. Citizen Science makes detailed interactive maps of protected natural areas and habitats, informs citizens and tourists in detail about how not to harm nature, teaches waste management, and so on.

Library and study center on the campus of the Vienna University of Economics (WU). The campus layout was developed by the architectural team BUSarchitektur. The library and learning center buildings were designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. The campus was opened in 2013. The total budget of the project is 492 million euros. Image source: wien.info


Oslo is the Green Capital of Europe 2019

Norway was ranked third in the World Happiness Report 2019. And Oslo is consistently among the top ten best cities in the world, albeit the most expensive. This summer, Oslo will host the international conference URBAN FUTURE, Europe's largest event dedicated to sustainable urban development. Oslo also became the European Green Capital in 2019.

Since the mid-2000s, Oslo has grown faster than any other city in Europe. Norway has weathered the financial crisis, and thanks to rising birth rates, longer life expectancy, and record immigration, the population of Oslo alone has grown to 700,000.

The success in the competition for economic prosperity and happiness of the Nordic countries and Norway in particular is usually associated with the "Protestant work ethic" that has shaped the moral foundations for centuries and prescribed working diligently, honestly and for the benefit of society. It is all the more interesting to find out how Oslo residents rest and spend their leisure time today.

In summer, Oslo locals go swimming and hold canoe racing competitions

In the invitations to URBAN FUTURE, Oslo guests are strongly encouraged to support the tradition of utepils. Literally, it means "drinking beer in the street," i.e. enjoying the sunshine and the atmosphere of general well-being while sitting at the tables of the many street cafes lining the sidewalks. Starting this summer, cars will no longer be a hindrance to the wonderful tradition of utepils - the city center will remain at the complete disposal of pedestrians and cyclists.

A few years ago, the Oslo authorities decided that starting in 2019, the center would be closed to private vehicles, and the area previously occupied by parking lots would be given over to red bike lanes and places for street cafes. To stimulate early "cycling", the municipality of Oslo even gave discounts of 500 and 1000 euros to citizens who buy bicycles and cargo bikes.

A floating sauna in the Oslo Fjord in front of the new opera house built by Snøhetta. Image source: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen

A bakery built by enthusiasts from the Flatbread Society in the Losjeter garden on the outskirts of Oslo. Photo: Losæter. Image source: VisitOSLO

"Grassroots" initiatives by local residents have led to the emergence of a whole infrastructure of "floating saunas" in Oslo. First, a group of anarchists, as they called themselves, set up a small sauna on a raft in the inner harbor. The Chaika raft instantly became popular among winter bathers. Within a few months, dozens of saunas on rafts were floating on the water in the Oslo Fjord. In the summer, locals enjoy swimming and hold canoe racing competitions.

The phased implementation of the Fjordbyen municipal project has transformed Oslo's waterfront into a multicultural zone

It's fair to say that all this water fun became possible after the city authorities implemented large-scale water purification projects in Oslo Harbor. Almost a million cubic meters of toxic silt were raised and removed from the bottom of the fjord. And as part of the installation of the Midgardsormen wastewater treatment system, the city's water supply and sewerage system was completely renovated over 6 years (2009-2015).

The budget of the Midgardsormen project amounted to 133 million euros. The phased implementation of the Fjordbyen municipal project has transformed Oslo's waterfront into a multicultural area with promenades, museums, and a new opera house designed by Snøhetta. The new Munch Museum and Aquarium entertainment and education center are also under construction.

A rooftop apiary. Image source: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen

In the former port industrial zones, there is even room for community gardens, small private bakeries, and craft workshops. The Losæter project brought together local artists, amateur gardeners, environmentalists, and agro-urbanists.


Road maps from Happy City

The English journalist Charles Montgomery collected philosophical theories of building a happy city over the past few centuries, as well as algorithms for calculating happiness in his book The Happy City. He mentioned the agora as the embodiment of the Greek philosophy of the good life, and the Forbidden City of the Ming Dynasty. He also mentioned the Felicific Calculus of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

As a reminder, Bentham proposed that any reforms concerning the interests of the community should be pre-evaluated by calculating the degree or amount of pleasure/happiness that will be achieved as a result. This sound theory of the Enlightenment, which led to the creation of magnificent public gardens and amusement parks in cities, was compromised by the result - the bloody revolutions that swept across Europe.

Charles Montgomery, author of the book "Happy City" and co-founder of the Happy City agency

Montgomery also analyzes the contribution of Daniel Kahneman, the founder of hedonic psychology, who studied what makes people's lives pleasant and unpleasant. Today, the information obtained through direct surveys is supported by data from neuroscientists. But the realization of the idea to build a city that is pleasant in all aspects can turn into the creation of Disneyland.

By the way, back in the mid-20th century, Disneyland was designed based on the theses of environmental psychology, which studies aspects of the relationship between humans and the environment. Almost all architectural and landscape images of Disneyland are archetypal and evoke mostly positive emotions. Main Street with craft shops, the Princess Castle, and the park with winding paths and swans. But hardly anyone wants to spend more than two days in a row at Disneyland.

The book "Happy City" by Charles Montgomery

Interestingly, after the publication of Montgomery's Happy City and the resonance that followed, the author decided to move on to practice. Together with like-minded people, Charles Montgomery created the international consulting agency Happy City, which researches the relationship between city design and the happiness of its inhabitants, tests urban planning plans and strategies, organizes trainings, opens urban laboratories, and develops intuitive methods for creating a happy artificial environment.

Mixed-use districts, aesthetically complex and diverse architecture with bright accents, low-rise housing, active facades that encourage walking, public gardens and vegetable gardens, squares as a space for joint creativity - the recommendations from Happy City, available for download at thehappycity.com, can be successfully used by both formal and informal urbanists, as well as architects and developers.

The transformation of cities is possible only if their residents undergo a personal metamorphosis

However, like the authors of the GHWPR report, Happy City enthusiasts recognize that the transformation of cities is only possible if their residents are personally transformed. People have to recognize that wealth does not make them happy and give up excessive consumption, personal vehicles, and possibly career growth. Refuse to work for a prestigious company if its office is located tens of kilometers away.

Instead, choose a workplace close to home to free up time to communicate with family and neighbors, and to avoid exhausting daily commutes in heavy traffic. Become more sociable, tolerant, and generous - especially towards vulnerable groups and migrants. And things like that. Prisoners of the urban agglomeration, slaves of career, workaholics who condemn themselves to social isolation - all these definitions that characterize the generation of those who are 40+ today should be a thing of the past.

As part of the Hug Life cultural movement, Oslo artists regularly organize art events and exhibitions on the streets of the city. Image source: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen

Happy City team members are eager to demonstrate that they are ready to overcome challenges. Recently, the Canadian office moved into a former police station in Vancouver's disadvantaged East Side neighborhood, joining the community of the Vancouver Center for Social Innovation. Modern urban utopians are not embarrassed by the neighborhood's reputation and the negative connotations associated with the police station.

"312 Main will be home to a dynamic community of entrepreneurs, artists, and organizations committed to economic and social democracy, empowering each other-and the neighborhood they are a part of-to thrive. Together, we will break down barriers," Happy City says. At the same time, the activists ask their guests and visitors to be understanding of East Side residents who "don't wear Armani suits and don't speak as culturally as you would like." Currently, urbanists are adapting the new premises with the help of architects Mackin+Associates.

Activists and staff of the Canadian office of Happy City, together with artists and architects Mackin + Associates, are transforming the space of a former police station on Vancouver's East Side in an effort to create an ideal environment for social innovation. Image source: mackinportfolio.com

The generation of millennials, and Ukrainians in particular, has a challenging but exciting mission: to become creative and social nomads, to explore the connections between urban design and emotions, to study both the success and failures of different models, universal and individual, and then to come back and build their own model of a happy city and society.

This construction will, of course, never be fully completed, and the assessment of happiness will always be subjective. But perhaps this article has shown you how many people around the world are willing to give their time, resources, and knowledge to make it a little better.



Case of Donkers:
A major melody for "generation+" cities

Dutch urbanist Kees Donkers is one of those who are confident in the positive potential of Ukrainian cities, and therefore devotes a lot of time to working with Ukrainian designers and architects as part of the City as Laboratory project. Case has repeatedly been an expert in our articles, talking about models of urban transformation and new algorithms. In March, we met Donkers at InterBuildExpo and managed to ask him a few questions as part of the main topic of this volume.

The Donkers case

PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA: Today, urbanists often talk about the importance of the "happiness index". You have also repeatedly mentioned this and reviewed Charles Montgomery's book The Happy City, published in 2005. Can we say that Montgomery's recipes are still relevant almost 15 years later?

Case Donkers: It is not by chance that I call Eindhoven a "rising star". We've been able to define a new identity for ourselves, and that makes us happy. This is largely due to our focus on the younger generation and the use of what I call the "seeds of the city" that we collect in the brain fields.

These are ideas generated by young minds. If you focus on changes in society, on young people, and every 10 years a new generation emerges, you will certainly witness the birth of a new identity, because it is young people who create it, who create the future. If you are able to inspire young people, to interact with them, then you are able to help them by using your knowledge and experience to create this new identity. This is the most effective tool for the new generation. That is why I call students my professors.

PM: The millennial generation is different from the older generation in many ways. What new demands do children of the digital age have?

К. Д.: It is definitely different. After all, they are able to generate ideas and inventions that we, as the older generation, cannot even imagine. I watch with interest my two-year-old grandson, who can easily scroll through his parents' smartphone and use all other technology just as easily, for example, he knows how to find all those TV programs.

It's amazing! That's why I say that every 10 years a new generation emerges with different characteristics. I, for example, am from the "protest generation" or the "Woodstock generation," and there is also the "pragmatist generation," Generation X, Y, Z, etc. The theory of generations is very interesting. I know a person my age who has been seriously researching this for many years.

It is interesting to see how young people choose different ways to find a new self-determination. This is a natural process that reflects what is happening in the world. For example, if 10 years ago 80% of design students chose industrial design as their main specialization, today 80% choose social design.

Human behavior, their needs, life in society - that's what interests them. Therefore, for me, their theses reflect the temperature of society; it is a demonstration of what they are thinking about and what they are preparing to create.

P.M.: What are the key requirements of millennials for the city and how well do urbanists manage to meet them?

К. D.: As far as I can see, they prefer to make do with little. When I discussed my project "60+/30-" (Case Donkers spoke in detail about the experimental project of cohabitation between the elderly and young people in an interview with PRAGMATIKA.MEDIA published in the seventh volume - Ed.), including with millennials, I found out that they, for example, would like to live in the countryside, in small houses, observe nature, and grow their own vegetables and herbs.

And here we can draw a parallel with the Woodstock generation: we also wanted to unite with nature, we wanted to live somewhere pastoral, but we preferred to break the rules, to fight against the foundations of society, that is, we were a kind of revolutionaries. The new generation has similar ideas, but I prefer to call the current picture an evolution rather than a revolution. They are more restrained, more moderate, more rational. This applies not only to global climate change, but also to behavior and mentality in general.

The generation of millennials is capable of generating ideas and inventions that we, as an older generation, cannot even imagine

PM: How happy are the people of Eindhoven today? And what new challenges are they facing?

К. Д.: We are definitely happier than we were 30 years ago. As for new challenges, for me, for example, it is the question of how to grow old. What will be different from my parents' experience. For example, today I can't afford many things, and I need to go my own way, to make my own decisions. That's why I want to work on the 60+/30- project, to invest the experience of my generation, my energy, and effective tools in it.

Another aspect is the issue of the environment and natural resources. First of all, we need to change the principles of using electricity, gas, gasoline, and coal: in the next 10 years, we need to switch to alternative energy sources, such as wind or solar power. So there will be big changes here as well. Behavioral change, awareness and concern about this issue are typical these days.

P.M.: If we go backwards and draw a picture of an "unhappy city," how would you describe it?

К. Д.: Unfortunately, this is what I often see in Russia. I mean cities that are in the same state as Eindhoven in 1993. The loss of industry, empty factory buildings, poverty, people in despair, unemployed, not knowing what to do or how to live.

P.M.: Can a city be poor but happy?

К. Д.: I think that if you can accept the truth of life, find happiness in the small, see the glass as always half full, then you will be happy no matter what. It all depends on your mentality. For example, I got a positive outlook on the world from my mother.

I think this is also true for cities. The mental music of some cities is written in a minor key, while others are in a major key. Two years ago, we discussed this issue with young people, whom I refer to as the "Generation+", at a conference in Cyprus. We came to the conclusion that there should be no more minor music in our cities.


She communicated: Nadezhda Bogata

/Published in #10 of Pragmatika, April 2019/.