10 Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live | NONAGON.style
10 Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live

10 Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live

RIBA report shares important characteristics for design

Isobel McKenzie
Written by –
Isobel McKenzie
on November 5th 2018
Originally from London, Isobel is enthralled by the curves and lines that make up a city. It's fascinating to see how modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks muddle together. Her Instagram feed @Isobel_McKenzie is usually full of spiral staircases and tall buildings. Can also be found on Twitter.. sometimes.

What are the top concerns when choosing somewhere to live? The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has recently published its report on the ‘Ten Characteristics of Places where People want to Live’ to demonstrate the relationship between design quality and what is currently supplied, to help replicate these characteristics for building new neighborhoods across the UK.


Take a look through these 10 characteristics and see how they correspond with your home!

What are the ten characteristics of places where people want to live? | NONAGON.style
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1. The right place for the right housing

Top of the list for considering a new build home, is the location. Having a connectivity to the surrounding context makes a housing project more successful. Particularly when it’s supported by good schools, healthcare, suitable shopping and employment opportunities, as well as access to green open space.


When we find the right location for new homes, we can make use of all the existing infrastructure to have access to items within walking distance, reducing car dependency.

Connecting the home to the location, a characteristic that makes people enjoy living in certain areas | NONAGON.style
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2. A place to start and a place to stay

Neighborhoods need to provide a mix of housing types, some for young renters and flat sharers, as well as first time buyers, families and older people. We need to provide enough low-income housing to support the towns and cities. When looking to buy a new home, it’s important that community can feel included at any life stage, and this diversity ensures that streets, shops and public spaces will be utilized with a mix of activities at different times of the day.


For a neighborhood to be ‘future proof’ it understands there are differing requirements from the community at each stage of living.

View of Hong Kong from The Harbour School | NONAGON.style
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3. A place which fosters a sense of belonging

Design has the power to evoke an emotional response, and even in the case of neighborhoods, create a strong visual identity.


“Retaining as many trees as possible has created a striking avenue of limes which form a now well used public route,” notes the report on a space where 76 new homes were added to a historic market town.

Making sure new builds are connected to nature | Top 10 Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live | NONAGON.style
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4. A place to live in nature

Green infrastructure has benefits for the body and the mind. Instead of living in concrete and car parking lots, open green spaces and biodiversity improves your mood. The natural environment around one’s home is the nature we interact with every day — trees from which birds sing, flowers that people admire, and relaxing shaded cover.


For children, it’s a joy to have a green space to play outside, while for adults they may want to partake in gardening activities. Whether public or private, having a place to live in nature contributes towards human health and wellbeing.

Houses on the street with a lot of character | NONAGON.style
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5. A real place to enjoy and be proud of

Are you proud of your neighborhood? One of the best ways to foster identity is being part of something, and that’s true with neighborhoods and towns. Having distinct streetscapes with authentic, tangible character is noted in the report as “appealing to a wider range of potential homeowners and residents.”


Design can target this sense of pride by defining public, communal and private areas. It does it by providing vistas and views, visual interest and of course framing buildings in a way that captures the eye.

Characteristics of places where people want to live | NONAGON.style
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6. A place with a choice of homes

As mentioned, people may require different types of housing at each life stage. But people also have particular requirements for their type of housing; how many bedrooms a family may require, the difference between apartments and houses, and buildings that can be adapted and flexible throughout their lifetime.


Over the years, housing requirements have changed. There are perhaps more smaller homes for single occupancy than before, but noting the strain on housing, we need to find skillful ways of accommodating changing lifestyles. The report suggests we should consider “creating larger homes that enable multi-generational sharing [which] could encourage more of us to live together again while retaining independence.”

Characteristics of Cuban architecture | NONAGON.style
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7. A place with unique and lasting appeal

Bland, boring and drab are not characteristics of a place where people want to live. Think about your favorite places — the buildings are unique; maybe quaint, or striking! Having a choice of authentic housing that give an area character are definitely important for creating a place people wish to be.


Adding onto this, it’s important to consider materials that are durable over time, rather than having a row of colorless terraced houses, it would be fantastic to see houses mature over time. “Well-chosen materials are also easier and less costly to manage and maintain in the long term,” notes the report.

Striking materials for swiss home | NONAGON.style
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8. A place where people feel at home

What makes a place feel like ‘home’ to you? When a child draws a house, they’ll create a frame with a door, windows and a chimney using warm colors. While everyone has their own idea of what home means, the report suggests that warmth is important, with roofscapes creating “a sense of protective enclosure.” Familiar symbols of home, like the doors and chimneys, should be integrated in a contemporary and attractive way.


“Color is a deeply personal choice, but homes respond well to individual decoration through good natural lighting and intelligent orientation. Rooms are well lit, benefiting from good views and fresh air, and the whole home is designed and constructed to sufficiently high

What materials are chosen for homes will influence the future sustainability of a project | NONAGON.style

9. A sustainable place for future generations

Our populations are becoming increasingly urban with the UN predicting that by 2030 six out of every 10 people will be living in the city, so it’s important to design with the future in mind. It’s worth considering that “homes in healthy, clean, resource-efficient neighborhoods in the right places are more likely to attract potential owners or tenants by costing less to run from the start and retaining inherent value in the long term.”


Being able to recycle water, reduce our carbon footprint and create a grid that minimizes energy loss help us look towards a sustainable future.

Thinking about sustainability for the long term when it comes to new build housing | NONAGON.style
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10. A place where people thrive

Thinking about a happy and healthy home, you want something with space and plenty of light. ” Once living in a new house, good indoor air quality, space and daylight promote health and wellbeing. As well as minimizing negative impacts on the environment, inherently energy-efficient new homes are also more affordable to run.”


For home owners looking to get their perfect space, they consider windows, healthy materials and how optimal the space is for their living situation. Just like plants, we require certain things to help us grow and live in a happy environment. It’s a balance between privacy and views, natural ventilation and solar gain. Keeping costs low for home owners avoids burnout, and helps homeowners feel at ease in their environment.

With all of these puzzle pieces in place, it’s interesting for all of us to reflect on our home environments. Do these characteristics match with your ideal place to live? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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