Founder, Happy City
Charles Montgomery creates transformative experiments, conversations and stories about cities, science, and human well-being.
He is the author of the award-winning book, Happy City, and founder of the consultancy of the same name.
Happy City examines the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness. The book shows the striking ways that our cities can influence our thoughts, feelings and actions, and it offers a vision for urban renovations guided by evidence from around the world. The message is as surprising as it is hopeful: Doomsayers have warned that action to tackle the urgent challenges of climate change and energy scarcity will lead us into decades of hardship and sacrifice. But evidence in Happy City and Charles’s own projects suggests the opposite: that the happier city, the healthier city, the wealthier city and the green city are the same place. Learn more here.
Charles has advised planners, students, and policy-makers across Canada, the USA and England. He has also used insights in happiness science to drive high-profile experiments that help citizens transform their relationships with each other and their cities. In 2010, his Home for the Games initiative tested the limits of trust, enabling hundreds of residents to open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, psychologist Colin Ellard, and the citizens of New York City, he used mobile phone applications to map the emotions of public space in the Lower East Side. At the Museum of Vancouver and elsewhere, Montgomery and his collaborators create participatory programs that help citizens treat their cities as hands-on laboratories.
Charles has won numerous awards for his writing on urban planning, psychology, culture and history in magazines and journals on three continents. His first book, The Last Heathen (published internationally as The Shark God), won the 2005 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction and the Hubert Evans Prize for Non-fiction, and was short-listed for two Writers’ Trust of Canada awards. Among his numerous awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science.
Charles spends most of his time in East Vancouver and Mexico City.
Find more details about Happy City–the book, the movement and the team– over at the Happy City Lab.
Learn more about a few of Charles’s other projects here.