Beth Lord’s reflections on “Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing” workshop

Our first project event yesterday was a great success, with 6 speakers, 2 respondents, and some very high quality discussion. Much of the material was new to me, making it all the more interesting to think about ways of linking current housing design debates with Spinoza.

For example, it became clear through the presentations that the concept of wellbeing must be understood to be dynamic: it changes with people’s circumstances. This was particularly thematic in Sarah Wigglesworth’s presentation of the DWELL project, which is focused on designing housing for older people. But it also emerged in Andrea Phillips’s paper on how we might develop art – and public art – in housing developments for differing (and maybe unforeseen) kinds of wellbeing rather than in the interests of privatization. Phil Hamilton’s discussion of the projects of Peter Barber Architects, and Brian Quinn’s presentation on CABE’s Building for Life report, also drew this out: different kinds of wellbeing may be served by different, context-specific, approaches to the design of housing and public space. A surprise question that arose was whether access to a car improves wellbeing or not – which reminded me of Anthony Paul Smith’s paper in Spinoza Beyond Philosophy which treats this as a Spinozistic question of “personal capacity vs. environmental responsibility”.

It was also great to hear the development of discussions we’ve previously had with Alex Ely of mae Architects and Deborah Garvie of Shelter; and wonderful to have the interdisciplinary contributions of lawyer Anne Bottomley and historian Andrew Saint.

My own contribution to the day took the form of live-tweeting: a new experience for me, and one that helped me to understand the potentialities of Twitter as a mode of networking and broadcast.

Publications discussed at #EqualitiesAndHousing

Some of the publications discussed by Alex Ely, Deborah Garvie, Brian Quinn, Sarah Wigglesworth, and Andrea Phillips in their sessions at today’s Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing workshop.

London Housing Design Guide

Sustain: A Roof Over My Head:

Shelter: Little Boxes, Fewer Homes:,_fewer_homes

Julie Myerson’s Home: the Story of Everyone who ever lived in our house:

The Design Council: Building for Life 12

Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont:

Andrea Phillips, “Art and Housing” in Social Housing/Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice:

Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing workshop today: live tweeting

Today sees our first project event: the Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing Workshop at University College London. This forms part of the Cities Methodologies event at UCL Urban Laboratory.

There is still time to register for the event. We will be recording the sessions for later podcasting, for those who can’t attend. You can also follow the event on Twitter: Beth Lord will be live tweeting throughout the day. Follow us @EqualitiesofWB  and join in by using hashtag #EqualitiesAndHousing


Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing Workshop: Programme

Looking forward to our first project event tomorrow at UCL. Here is the lineup:

Equalities of Wellbeing & Housing Workshop
Tuesday 29th April UCL

A one-day seminar for the project that examines current issues of UK housing, as part of UCL Urban Laboratory’s week-long Cities Methodologies programme.

Venue: Gustav Tuck Lecture Theatre (UCL Main Building)

10-10.30 Intro: Peg Rawes (UCL) and Beth Lord (Aberdeen)

10.30-11.30 Space and Housing Standards: Alex Ely (Mae Architects) and Deborah Garvie (Shelter)


12.00-1.00 Design and Wellbeing I: Brian Quinn (Design Council/CABE) and Phil Hamilton (Peter Barber Architects)


2.00-2.30 Design and Wellbeing II: Sarah Wigglesworth (Sarah Wigglesworth Architects)

2.30-3.30 Equality and Affordability: Maddy Power (Equality Trust), and Andrea Phillips (Goldsmiths)

3.30-4.15 Closing discussion with responses from Anne Bottomley (Kent) and Andrew Saint (Survey of London UCL).

4.15-5.30 Closing tea/refreshments (Venue: Wates House Lobby, 22 Gordon Street)

Booking is free, but places must be reserved through Eventbrite –

Participant Bios:

Alex Ely MA(RCA) RIBA RTPI is a leading authority on urban design and housing. As author of the Mayor of London’s Housing Design Guide and numerous research and best practice publications for the CABE he combines planning and policy experience with a passion for good design. Alex is the founder of Mæ and has been responsible for a wide range of award winning schemes from masterplans to housing projects, health care and cultural buildings. Since its inception, the practice has become recognized as one of the UK’s leading young design practices. Alex is a Chartered Architect and Chartered Town Planner.

Deborah Garvie (Senior Policy Officer) is Shelter’s lead on the housing and planning changes introduced by the Localism Act 2011, including the National Planning Policy Framework. She is the author of Little Boxes, Fewer Homes: setting housing space standards will get more homes built (April 2013), which argued that the quality of homes was creating opposition to house-building. Deborah has also worked on the well-being implications of poor housing, including Shelter’s response to the Marmot Review of health inequalities in England (2009); Nowhere to go: the scandal of homeless children in B&Bs (November 2013) and as policy adviser on Sustain – the ground-breaking Shelter and Crisis, Big Lottery funded longitudinal study of housing outcomes and well-being in private rented accommodation (2010-2014). As editor of Shelter’s Bedsit Briefing magazine from 1998-2004, she campaigned for improvements to private rented housing. This culminated in the Housing Act 2004, which introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation and protection of tenancy deposits.

Phil Hamilton has been a Director at Peter Barber Architects for around 5 years after joining the practice in 2002. During this time, the practice have delivered various high profile housing and regeneration projects (including Donnybrook Quarter, Tanner Street Gateway, Hannibal Road Gardens and The Employment Academy) that have helped the practice to win the accolade of UK Architect of the Year (for housing and refurbishment) in 3 of the last 7 years.

Brian Quinn is an experienced urban designer and is Cabe’s project manager responsible for housing. His main current work is to lead the Building for Life 12 initiative – the well-used tool for assessing design quality in housing. He is currently developing the Expert Examination service for schemes applying for the Built for Life Commendation. He has been at Cabe since 2007 and has led research projects in crime prevention and housing and has written various Cabe publications such as This way to better residential streets, Large Digital Screens in Public Spaces (with English Heritage) and a contributor to Crowded Places – The planning system and counter terrorism (with CLG and CPNI).

Maddy Power is a Senior Research and Policy Advisor at The Equality Trust. She holds an MSc in Social Policy (Research) from LSE and is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of York. Her research interests include the social and health impacts of economic inequality.

David Roberts is a doctoral student in Architectural Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, a course tutor in MSc Urban Studies, UCL, part of collaborative art practice Fugitive Images and part of architecture collective Involve. David uses poetry, photography and performance to explore the relation between place and people. He has exhibited, lectured and published work related to housing, architecture, collaboration, critical methodologies and site-specific practice.

Andrew Saint has been General Editor of the Survey of London since 2006. He has written a number of books including Richard Norman Shaw (2nd edition, 2010); The Image of the Architect (1983); Towards A Social Architecture: The Role of England in Post-War School-Building (1987); and Architect and Engineer: A Study in Sibling Rivalry (2007). From 1995 to 2006 he was a professor in the Department of Architecture at Cambridge.

Sarah Wigglesworth RDI MBE MA DipArch RIBA set up practice in London in 1994. Since then she has developed extensive expertise in green and sustainable design and masterplanning. The practice has extended its approach to low energy design through a wide range of project types and now specializes in design for education, housing and community projects. She is also Professor of Architecture at the University of Sheffield where she heads an interdisciplinary research team (the DWELL project) seeking design, management and procurement solutions that promote wellbeing in housing for older people.

Register now for Equalities of Wellbeing and Housing Workshop

Tuesday 29 April, 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Gustav Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London

This one-day seminar includes panels on space and housing standards, equality and affordability, design and wellbeing. It includes speakers from architecture, academia, and the charitable sector. Speaker details on our PDF Poster: HousingWorkshop-EQWELL-Flyer

All welcome; admission free. Book your place via Eventbrite.