a Danish concept adopted globally
Hygge - the city of tomorrow and well-being
If we were to think about the innermost desire people have, in general, it is to feel comfortable – with themselves, those around them, and the place where they live. We all have been in search of this coziness feeling for a long time, but we can’t figure out how to make room for it in our daily routine. In fact, it contains all the small and simple things that warm up our heart in the great whirlwind of our everyday existence. The Danes already have a name for this need for well-being, seconded by peace and harmony, against this background of a hectic, challenging life.
Hygge, how it started and what it means
A typical Danish feeling, hygge is considered “a defining feature of our (Danish) cultural identity and an integral part of our national DNA”, according to Meik Wiking, CEO of Copenhagen Happiness Research Institute. Hygge began as a survival strategy for the long and cold winter nights, so people wouldn’t be isolated from one another, creating opportunities for family and friends to enjoy each other company.
This concept has become a global trend, with people everywhere being inspired by the comfort of Scandinavian homes and the well-being of minimalism, simplicity, and good taste of these people. Although they have a hard time with the harsh weather and an alert lifestyle, they educate themselves to accept the challenges of such an existence with a lot of positivity. Moreover, what has aroused a worldwide interest in this Danish phenomenon is the daily feeling of closeness, the comfortable, pleasant, friendly atmosphere that attracts well-being. Basically, hygge is the gentle feeling of acceptance, warmth, familiarity, but also physical and mental comfort over the surroundings and situations in which we find ourselves, thus replacing loneliness. Based on these mental benefits of hygge, Western cultures started to incorporate small rituals into their daily routine and even home design and interior design to inspire the same ideas and feelings.
What hygge brings to urban communities
At the macro level of the community, in urban settlements, hygge could be associated with gentle and permissive communion between people, but also with simple, sustainable and effective solutions that are meant to simplify life until it achieves its true purpose. Climate issues, but also those of organizing the spaces in which people work, are viewed with acceptance, peace and the desire to overcome them with a smile.
In the context of the challenges of today’s societies, in which territories are rapidly urbanizing, but also populations are growing and changing, people are beginning to fear each other due to possible overcrowding and congestion, followed by social segregation and inequality. Therefore, they fear that their personal space will be invaded, making it difficult for them to find a balance between sociability and intimacy. In addition, the rising costs associated with housing are forcing them to live and work in small, enclosed, inadequately ventilated and artificially lit spaces, developing unhealthy habits. They travel by car to reach their points of interest, waste a lot of time in traffic and become increasingly irritable and unfriendly to their peers. Over time, loneliness and then depression become normal phenomena, and people forget what is really the essence of their life – that of being in communion with nature and those around it.
Soft city or “the joy of life between buildings”
A concept developed by David Sim, soft city addresses these challenges of modern man, trying to find various ways for city dwellers to spend as much time outside as possible, in the company of others. It wants to bring lightness and comfort, in which density has a human dimension, adapting to our ever-changing needs, nurturing relationships and hosting the pleasures of everyday life. Moving away from the traditional ways of reorganizing human activities into distinct territories, separating people and things to reduce the risk of conflict, soft city means all those efforts to understand and turn these situations into opportunities to improve the quality of life.
With the same hygge values at its center, soft city is about how we can look at new and complex technologies to solve the problems of accelerated urbanization. By resorting to simple, low-tech, low-cost, human-centered, generous solutions, they will be able to make urban life easier, more attractive and more comfortable. It is not against technology, the idea of smart city, but on the contrary, it comes with flexible, open, intelligent ideas, even basic aspects of urban design, which can contribute to creating more sustainable and resilient communities, with happier and healthier people. Embracing the opportunity to create a dialogue with the planet, people and places, people are invited to interact with the environment – buildings, green spaces, the vast city.
How we can integrate these concepts into our society
People and their behaviors are similar, no matter where they are, as well as their basic needs for comfort and connection in everyday life. Embracing reality, instead of avoiding or revolting against it, can improve our lives. By learning to celebrate life every day, instead of mourning it, we learn to live in harmony with the weather outside, the environment in which we live, and our neighbors. “Make heaven out of what you have” it is the local expression of hygge, but also related to the people and environments we are surrounded by.
We can choose to let our lives flow in spaces that fulfill us. Inside, let’s opt for large windows and more natural light, generous rooms with access to the terrace or courtyard, ventilated facades and other features that promote well-being, health, comfort and quality time spent with loved ones. Outside, minimizing noise and car nuisance (through underground parking lots or separate from residential neighborhoods), encouraging communion with nature through extensive green spaces, playgrounds and airy housing in the neighborhood. In addition, sustainable and low-cost solutions, which make them comfortable and environmentally friendly spaces, as well as district heating plant,economical and safe and aesthetic, but also the use in their design of recyclable materials with a long life span – these are just a few aspects that will change the perception of living spaces in urban agglomerations.
h4l it is about all this – about giving meaning and warmth to the living spaces in the urban environment, by transforming them into places where life is full of joy and well-being is constantly nourished.