Feeling Good: Wellbeing & the Built Environment

Team member Iain Monteith attended the Scottish Civic Trust conference last week entitled “Feeling Good: Wellbeing & the Built Environment”. Of particular interest was a talk given by Sir Harry Burns providing an explanation of the work by Aaron Antonovsky and the term: ‘Salutogenesis’ - an approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease”.

Essential to this theory is a “sense of coherence” which has 3 components, namely:

1. Comprehensibility: a belief that things happen in an orderly and predictable fashion and a sense that you can understand events in your life and reasonably predict what will happen in the future.

2. Manageability: a belief that you have the skills or ability, the support, the help, or the resources necessary to take care of things, and that things are manageable and within your control.

3. Meaningfulness: a belief that things in life are interesting and a source of satisfaction, that things are really worthwhile and that there is good reason or purpose to care about what happens.

This is important as these components relate to an issue we have been discussing - the success of 70’s community architecture where end user / tenants felt a sense of inclusion in the development of their housing and the challenge being then for the next generation inheriting a previous generations housing, how to create that ownership and meaningfulness in different ways.