Happiness by design | Landmark Lofts

Paul Dolan’s 'Happiness By Design' at Ecobuild 2015.

As part of Ecobuild 2015, Paul Dolan delivered a lecture based on research created for his new book, Happiness by Design. As a Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics, Dolan conducted original research into the measurement of happiness, and its causes and consequences. Happiness by Design reveals that to be happier, you must actively re-design your immediate environment. When it comes to designing the ideal loft conversion, we certainly agree with Paul’s findings! In the lecture, he identified the perfect balance of conditions in order to lead a much happier lifestyle, understanding the drivers of human behaviour and how that relates to design. The conditions, which we are often not aware of, that require focus were identified using the acronym SALIENT, which stands for:


Too much external noise causes irritability, so soundproofing a new space is important. At Landmark Lofts, we work closely with our clients to deliver their requirements, paying particular attention to nearby traffic thoroughfares or flight paths.


Though not considered particularly important in the hierarchy of influences on the physical environment, airflow is significant because it elimniates odours. Consider how stale and musky air makes people feel, then think of how the smell of fresh bread entices a shopper in a supermarket!


Did you know brighter light makes people more honest while darker environments increase creativity? How much light required depends on the context of what the space is for. In a conversion, bedrooms should have as much light as possible while a work space can be more compact with fewer windows required.


Clutter causes stress! While art stimulates the receptors in our brains, the wrong art or simply too much can overload our senses, leading to a feel of unease. Our design consultants work with our clients, identifying complimentary styles and designs based around their lifestyles. Our architects then take these requirements and create what feasibly works for them.


Paul is the first to admit that very few controlled-study experiments exist to test the benefits of ergonomics, however, it is safe to say we usually don’t notice good design because it gives us no need to, but we do notice poor design. The emphasis within ergonomics is to ensure that designs complement the abilities of people and minimise the effects of their limitations, as opposed to expecting the client to adapt.


Want to increase a feeling of wellbeing? Turn to Mother Nature. Study after study shows us outdoor imagery is important as it makes us feel relaxed, and triggers the ‘primeval lizard’ sections of our brains. Don’t believe us? If the current work environment is stressful, introduce a few potted plants and see how you feel after a few days.


Colour is important. Shades of red are seen as aggressive, while shades of blue are considered comforting and relaxing. In a workspace, red is seen as beneficial for performance related tasks. Blue is shown to be more suitable for creative tasks.

A living and working environment should be designed taking both pleasure and purpose into consideration, and our architectures work with our clients to create what they really desire. Something else that Paul raised was what he called ‘spillover behaviour,’- events which take place sequentially and are linked, at a conscious or unconscious level, by some underlying motive. At Landmark Lofts, we have discovered that 95% of our clients intend to pass on their redesigned space to their children and families, creating a space for future generations, rather than for profit. This motive is to pass on their happiness – conscious or subconscious – to the next age group. Dolan’s lecture finished with a simple philosophy; happiness need not be pursued, simply rediscovered. At Landmark Lofts we know how to identify the sources of pleasure and purpose that are all around our clients, and we work with them to maximise their living space.

Landmark Lofts is part of the Landmark Group - the only group in London specialising in the project management of loft conversions, extensions and refurbishments to include a Chartered Building Company (CIOB), Chartered Architectural Practice (RIBA) and to be regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The Landmark Group specialises in the project management of loft conversions, extensions and refurbishments.

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