Social Effects
Quality of life

Well designed buildings and streets improve lives

Find out how good design of buildings and streets play a part in social development.

Do you believe that better quality buildings and public spaces improve the quality of people’s lives? If so, you are like 85 percent of people surveyed in a study carried out for the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment (CABE), who said the quality of the built environment made a difference on how they felt1.

Good design is an important part of our lives. As Claus Bech-Danielsen, Professor at the Danish Building Research Institute, explains it, property restoration in the form of renewed designs that introduce individuality and diversity in neighbourhoods can satisfy our societal ideals and create a positive impact on community health2.

And that’s just it, good design is more than simply making aesthetic improvements to our environment. It is also about improving the community’s wellbeing, creating more equal opportunities and socio-economic benefits3

Greater social mobility, tax base

Increasing the attractiveness of neighbourhoods can also attract a more diverse group of people to live in the area, which has a range of benefits including improved social mobility. For example, children from low-income families living in higher-income neighbourhoods are more likely to attend college, and will as a result earn 31% more as adults4

Diversity also improves the local business environment as businesses have access to diverse labour skills. From a city’s perspective, improving the quality of living conditions for all residents and the ability to attract new citizens through attractive neighbourhoods brought about by a modernised and attractive building stock will also contribute to the tax income of the city4.


Children from low-income families will earn

when growing up in higher-income neighborhoods

Clean streets

Even streets benefit from good design. Two thirds of people agreed that how streets look and feel can make a difference to crime in a neighbourhood. In fact, the “broken-window” theory suggests that an urban environment left in poor condition will encourage anti-social and criminal behaviour. Residents are more likely to experience assaults and gun violence in these areas, causing them to feel less safe4.

Overall, design matters because our lives are nurtured and connected through the buildings and public spaces that we share. In other words, aesthetics play a role in increasing people’s social mobility and when we sacrifice aesthetics to save costs in the short term, we are essentially ‘leaving money on the table’ in the long run.



1. CABE (2002) Streets of Shame. Summary of findings from ‘Public Attitudes to Architecture and the Built Environment’. London, CABE

2. Upscaling Urban Regeneration, 2018

3. “The value of good design: How buildings and spaces create economic and social value” CABE, 2002

4. Copenhagen Economics based on Kondo et al, 2015 and Chetty et al, 2016

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