Wellbeing as an Emergent Property of Social Practice

Wellbeing in buildings is often approached by practitioners and researchers as the aggregate result of individual interactions between building occupants and building features. This sum-of-the-parts approach, however, ignores the ways in which broader social (i.e. sense of ownership and belonging) and symbolic (i.e. what it means to be ‘well’ in a specific culture at a particular place and time) components of wellbeing influence occupant experience of the built environment. A social practice perspective on wellbeing in buildings is proposed that accounts for these elements. Beginning with discussions of how wellbeing has been assessed and the foundations of social practice theory, it is suggested that occupant wellbeing is emergent not just from individual interactions with building features but also from broader social and symbolic elements.

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