The study of wellbeing is fast becoming a key consideration for urban planning, architecture and design policy makers as it can provide a system to measure social progress. Although average national wellbeing scores are rising in the UK, so is inequality of wellbeing. The pattern of disparities in wellbeing reveals an unequal geography both across and within neighbourhoods, such that those living in deprived neighbourhoods are more likely to experience adversity in health, education, mobility and social inclusion. To better understand how spatial structures influence the relationship between social progress and wellbeing, this paper proposes a new conceptual model for thinking about wellbeing and inequality. The model focuses on how spatial structures – via urban design – can promote wellbeing by reducing spatial expressions of economic disparity and facilitating positive encounters between social groups. The model will be applied in two case studies of deprived neighbourhoods in Manchester (UK); lessons from the case studies will be used to develop design guidelines/policy for decision-makers interested in improving the equality of wellbeing in their neighbourhoods.
Aisa Sabbagh Gomez, Lancaster University, United Kingdom