Project Team

Happy City is an interdisciplinary firm working at the intersection of urban design, policy, engagement and human wellbeing. We turn evidence into action for happier, healthier and more inclusive communities.

Where we’re coming from

Since 2016, Happy Cities (formerly Happy City) has been researching the keys to addressing the loneliness crisis in multi-unit buildings. We now know that planning and housing design decisions can make or break social connections, elevate or reduce health and happiness, foster inclusion or deepen disconnection. Our team of experts in housing design and social connectedness have identified unexplored challenges and opportunities to work toward systemic change. 

In 2017, Happy City created and publicly released the Happy Homes (HH) Toolkit, complete with design and programming actions to boost sociability in multi-unit buildings. The following year, Happy City convened housing practitioners to address the barriers to implementing HH recommendations. This resulted in a practical guide called Designed to Engage

The project inspired Concert Properties and the City of Vancouver to pilot social programming in rental buildings. HH was instrumental in the design of TOMO, the first “co-housing light” development in Vancouver. 

Happy Cities has also helped numerous developers implement best practices for affordability and sociability in their communities. Now that they have been implemented, the team will test the design and programming actions, creating data that reveals how they affect social connectedness and wellbeing. 

Previous contributors to this project include Paty Rios and Bryan Wong.

Project team


Madeleine Hebert

Senior Housing Specialist

Madeleine leads housing research projects at Happy Cities, working with professionals and communities to develop solutions to improve social connectedness, resilience, and wellbeing. Her work promotes collaborative approaches and ensures that spaces provide equitable opportunities for everyone.


Cheri Hessami

Director, Operations & Wellbeing

Cheri is a multidisciplinary urbanist who applies her cognitive science and public health knowledge to create happy, healthy, inclusive urban spaces.


Houssam Elokda

Managing Principal

Houssam is a community designer, housing expert and systems builder. He leads our strategic work along with our housing and master planning projects.


Emma Avery

Urban Planner & Communications Specialist



Uytae Lee

Videographer and Engagement Collaborator

Uytae is a videographer, storyteller, urban planner and musician. He helps us tell stories that inspire urban change and civic engagement.


Hanna Negami

Research collaborator

Hanna is a cognitive neuroscientist. She helps us with research and data analysis to better understand how people experience urban environments.

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