Ryan Loveday

Making a Place for Joy: How the design of the built environment enhances happiness and quality of life.

Presenter: Ryan Loveday, Director, Fulton Trotter Architects

Oral Presentation

Connecting with the conference’s theme of ‘Thriving with Universal Design: Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday’ this presentation will discuss the practical relationship between the design of the built environment and the opportunities for social cohesion, happiness and quality of life afforded by that environment. Drawing directly from our own experience in the design of aged care and health facilities; we make the case that what is good, supportive and enabling for the most vulnerable of us, in these kinds of places, is in fact, good for everyone, everywhere.

With a play on words, we address the fact that Joy is both an essential emotional aspect of healthy existence, but also a real person with her own story and history. While Joy clearly lives in institutional aged care, what can we learn from her circumstances, and are her needs fundamentally different from anyone else’s? What do we really need to be happy?

Recognising that for the most part we simply accept buildings as passive backdrop to our lives, we show that the built environment has a profound impact on how we feel, how we behave, how we live; and how we interact with each other. With social isolation shaping as the new cancer of our age, how do we design for Joy, or in other words, supportive space that provides a wide range of choice, autonomy, connection and meaning?

In supporting Joy, we expand on 10 fundamental design strategies that we believe aged care can teach us in the broader context- strategies including the blurry edge, sticky spaces, pattern and detail, connection to country and several more. We finish by focussing on the need for empathy in design, recognising that at a human scale our buildings can be a fundamental form of restraint (a hot topic in aged care), or a powerful facilitator of growth, opportunity and happiness.