The Quality of Life Foundation Framework

Quality of Life Study themes (Illustrator: Lizzie Lomax)
Quality of Life Study themes (Illustrator: Lizzie Lomax)
Project date
  • Guidance
  • Publication
  • Research
The Quality of Life Foundation
Associated team members
Associated documents

The Quality of Life Foundation has been set up to explore ways in which we can improve people’s quality of life by making wellbeing central to the way we create and care for our homes and communities. Quality of life can be understood to mean ‘the level to which individuals may feel their lives to be happy, active, sociable, interesting and meaningful’.

URBED have been working with the QoLF Board since the summer of 2020, helping to collate the study into a framework under 6 main themes:  Nature, Wonder, Health, Movement, Belonging and Control. URBED led two stakeholder engagement sessions and put together 18 case studies focussing on inspiring 'Quality of Life' precedents around the UK. These can be read online here. 

The framework document has been influenced by a range of viewpoints over the course of its development, and was published in January 2021, with aims to be accessible for all types of reader - including developers, community groups, designers and councillors. 


1. Control

Influence / Safety / Permanence

When problems occur, they are easier to deal with if we feel that we have a degree of control over our situation. This is as true of the home as it is of the neighbourhood. One of the biggest issues that disempowers us is feeling unsafe and vulnerable. A sense of wellbeing comes from believing that there is something that we and our neighbours can do to improve our area and address local problems.

2. Health

Housing/ Air Quality / Recreation

Our health is crucial to our quality of life. The difference in life expectancy between affluent and deprived areas can be more than ten years, even for adjacent neighbourhoods. This health inequality is partly due to lifestyle, but the quality of housing has a sizeable impact, as does the local environment, which might include opportunities for exercise, air quality and noise level. Looking forward, we want to help communities create neighbourhoods that allow people to pursue healthy lifestyles.

3. Nature

Green Space / Interaction / Green Homes

Contact with nature is central to our wellbeing as humans. Many studies have show that contact with nature, even just a green view from our window, is good for our mood and aids our recovery when we are ill. We need to green our towns and cities at every level, from our window boxes to the great parks, and maintain access in the countryside. We also need to respect the environment in the way we construct our homes to minimise carbon use and reduce the use of toxic materials.

4. Wonder

Culture / Distinctiveness / Playfulness

Quality of life is about more than our health and comfort; it also includes a sense of wonder, delight and fun – all of the things that bring us happiness and make us human. This includes creativity and cultural expression, museums and libraries, as well as the design of the places where we live and work, and the opportunity to enjoy ourselves.

5. Movement

Walking & Cycling / Public Transport / Cars

Having a car can contribute to your quality of life: it allows you to get to places for work and leisure that would otherwise be hard to reach, particularly for those of us who don’t have access to good public transport. The problem is that when everyone enjoys these freedoms our collective quality of life suffers. Roads become unsafe, congested, noisy and polluted. We must therefore encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport, and streets should be designed and landscaped to make active transport more appealing.

6. Belonging

Diversity / Community / Neighbourhood

Belonging to a community is a powerful need in humans and is central to our wellbeing. This is partly about community groups and events, but many of us feel a strong sense of belonging even if we don’t have the time to go to a meeting or engage in community activities. It is about being part of a group and sharing an identity; about trust, cooperation and reciprocity. This is built by knowing our neighbours, chatting to fellow parents at the school gate or in the park, or even just nodding at our fellow dog walkers and exchanging pleasantries with local shopkeepers. 



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