In the project ‘Design for community well-being’, Waag, the Delft Institute Of Positive Design and Stadsdorp Nieuwmarkt explored the principles of happiness and well-being within a community.

The past decades have been marked by an increasing interest in the relationship between design and human well-being. At Waag, design for happiness has become a well-known term. With our concepts, we aspire to empower people in improving the quality of their lives, and putting (the perception of) their happiness centrally.

Current Positive Design methods approach happiness as an individual matter, however, designers usually do not design for individual users. Additionally, research has shown that contributing to something or someone bigger than the self stimulates a sense of purpose and relatedness, which strongly enhances someone’s well-being. Therefore we would like to push the boundaries of design for happiness a little, by exploring how we can design for the good of a group, instead of the individual user. 

Stadsdorp Nieuwmarkt

The context of her graduation project was ‘Stadsdorp Nieuwmarkt’; a group of local residents of the Nieuwmarkt neighbourhood in Amsterdam who wants to form a cohesive and active community that can serve as a local social safety net when needed. Stadsdorp Nieuwmarkt served as a pilot group in this research trajectory, to develop and test insights about community well-being together.

Additionally, online exchange platform Peerby was involved in the project as external advisor. A lot of thinking and experimenting has brought Peerby to a success, this experience can be of great help in the development of an online structure for Stadsdorp Nieuwmarkt. 

Plan of action

Hester van Zuthem explored the phenomena of ‘community well-being’ for six months, together with residents of the Nieuwmarkt neighbourhood. The objective of this research was to gain insight in the different appearances of communities and to translate these insights into a vision to design principles for community well-being. The final goal is to stimulate social interaction within the Nieuwmarkt area.

Project duration

1 Dec 2013 - 1 Jul 2014




  • Delft Institute of Positive Design
  • Stadsdorp Nieuwmarkt
  • Peerby