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The Economics of Design - Part 1

Design is not really about aesthetics, it is mainly about creating the most optimum user experience. If the design is well thought through the aesthetics will automatically follow.

Well-designed spaces improve people’s quality of life and creates economic and social value way beyond any policy or fiscal input.

Well-designed neighbourhoods benefit from lower crime rates, a better sense of security and higher house prices. A connected and inclusive urban space has lower management, maintenance, security and energy costs. A well-designed hospital benefits patients and staff minimising the amount of time the patients spend in the hospital and lowers the cost to the health system. A healthier population has a general increased earning power, increasing government tax intake.

But how do we put actual numbers on good design?

We need to be better at highlighting the financial rewards. It is obvious that if you sell products online, the better your your website is, the more you will sell, but how do we analyse the significant value and economic benefits of a good space?

A well-designed playground in a school will reduce the need for lunchtime assistants, resources saved can go straight into educational expenditure.

A well designed new urban space connected to public transport, with emphasis on walking and cycling and green open spaces have the capacity to become a major catalyst for sustainable economic activity in the urban setting - and for the whole of a country - for a lifetime to come.

For the land owner a good urban space means higher land value, for the local authority lower ‘maintenance’ cost and for the residents a better quality of life, better health, jobs and economic benefits.

It is time to realise that to create sustainable economic growth we need to invest in design.

Part 2 will look at specific projects and the fiscal benefits to design

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