Urban Habitats | our vision

A challenge

With all the great ingenuity of humanity there are a vast array of ideas at our disposal to help us live happy, fulfilled, and healthy lives.  But we don’t use most of them.  As communities, businesses, organisations, and wider society we expend most of our available resources trying to do the job with less than half the bits.  The cost is vast, the results mixed, and not everyone feels the benefit of this effort.  People are fed up with these outcomes and practitioners feel their efforts to put forward workable ideas are frustrated.

The environment around us shapes our lives and behaviours and has potential to be harnessed for the benefit of communities, organisations for working, learning, living, and more besides.  Yet the physical and natural environment is one we have often overlooked the value of.

We continue with the approach we trust but just round the corner though there’s a series of big changes coming, they will affect all people globally, and will be at least as big as say ‘industrialisation’ or ‘the internet’ were.  Our current approach won’t work for long; currently our ability to respond looks bleak.


Many of our public systems are under huge pressure: healthcare, social care, education.  The pressure extends beyond any divide of public / private money though: the housing market, the workplace, and transport are all part of the picture and similarly stretched.

When we see these problems we understandably try to resolve them but we start at the wrong end, looking for a sticking plaster to patch up much deeper rooted problems.  An example of this would be giving more money to healthcare services to relieve the current pressure, or building more road capacity.  We know it won’t work long term and may well do longer term harm but this is still the starting point for our thinking.  There is no space for creative and strategic thinking.

Many are living longer but not necessarily living better, we are deficient in physical activity, and it is thought our genetic makeup can’t respond to our new diets and food habits, to name but a few.  Our current approach won’t be able to respond to these changes.

Our vision is to change this.

We aim to do this by creating a space within which creative thinking can emerge, strategies and plans be created, and of course then put into action and made happen.

When we look behind the problems and ills we encounter communities who are under unmanageable stress at work, living with parents because they can’t afford to rent or buy their own place, looking after ageing relatives who don’t have funds to pay for care, or simply lonely.  And yes there are also those in poverty, homeless, and in the criminal justice system.  These are normal people, some of them are us, and they are dealing with difficult situations.  Our starting point is to value these communities and provide space for them to shape their own future and pull on the resources to do so.

Existing services, systems, businesses, and organisations are trying to engage with these communities but many are under such pressure that longer term thinking cannot emerge.  We provide a space within which creative thinking can be fed.

Our vision is for health, learning, care, work, and more besides to be valued based on what contributes to a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life and not solely as a cost or return on investment.  This extends to valuing practitioners of all disciplines alongside communities: not just as economic entities delivering minimum standards for minimum wage but valued, creative, team members, developing evidence informed approaches, to the issues that matter to communities.

We are not here to push a new technocracy to replace the previous one.  Rather we anticipate that as communities start to consider what is important to them they will have questions and will need space to think about them.  Our vision is for a new form of practise to emerge that creates a space within which creative strategy, thinking, and making can be undertaken by coalitions of communities and practitioners working side-by-side.

We have a passion for the health of the physical and natural environment, for our neighbourhoods, and streets.  What is good for these spaces is often good for human health.  They are not the only ideas though and our role is to put as many options up for discussion as possible so that communities can work with the ones that best fit their needs.  With this approach in place we are are excited for the new thinking, strategy, and making that will evolve which we haven’t even yet thought of.