Community wellbeing in the built environment: towards a relational building assessment

Recent literature conceives of the development of Community Wellbeing (CW) in the built environment as a dynamic process that emerges when residents interact with their physical environments to negotiate understandings of community within the shared spaces of their buildings (Wiseman and Brasher 2008, Atkinson et al. 2017). However, in practice, evaluation methods and frameworks continue to measure CW as an aggregate of individual wellbeing, without consideration of the relationships among diverse scales (individual, community, population), dimensions (social, economic, environmental, cultural, political, health), and levels (building, neighbourhood, region) of CW (Coburn et al. 2003, Atkinson et al. 2017). The problem with measuring and evaluating community wellbeing as an aggregate of individual wellbeing is the failure to capture the resident experience as it emerges from (and is shaped by) the local community context. While conceptually CW is acknowledged as being ‘greater than the sum of its parts’, methods of evaluation have not caught up.

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