I’ve always been fascinated by cities and what makes some better, worse or happier than others. My interest was initially piqued a few years ago, after reading Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery. The book provided a detailed insight into some of the world’s best cities and how we can transform uninspiring concrete jungles into new-age visions of urban utopia. Montgomery provided hope that we can tackle environmental and social, as well as economic challenges by building strong communities and, as a result, happier and greener cities globally.
To some extent, this served as the inspiration for our Urban Issue. In our cover story, Amy Frearson uncovers why Singapore, the garden city, has grown up and gone green. We also look at sustainable Scandinavian mobility and examine the transportation making our commute to work more social, inclusive and eco-friendly. Elsewhere, we consider the impact of urban art and whether it has the power to make us happier, while Grant Gibson shares his view on headphones and why they could hinder collaboration at the office.
Montgomery says, “Having one friend or family member to confide in had the same effect on life satisfaction as a tripling of income.” A sense of freedom and contact with nature are the qualities of a good metropolis. But at its core, it unites families, friends, communities and even strangers because a truly happy city is a social city; a connected city.