UrbanIxD Summer School


Happyless is part of the Displaced City series.



What if happiness was a commodity among cities?

In 2068, governments in cities facing a growing depression decided to reactivate their program of the Sister Cities. They created new exclusive partnerships to fight this depression ruining the productivity of almost every country. Happiness has now become one of the most precious resource of cities. A race toward an unlimited growth of happiness has started. Cities now have to collaborate with each other to raise their local level of happiness. They stimulate the joy of citizens by creating new third places providing activities where people can gather and celebrate to push up the happiness indicator.



The entire society has been reorganized according to the happiness policies, shaping time, interactions among people and physical spaces in the city. The infrastructure of the city has been designed to reach the daily happiness goal. Citizens have to wear bracelets measuring their happiness level, allowing authorities to track the mood of the city. In order to maintain the happiness production at the a constant rhythm, behavior guides solving conflicts and timecards helping to find the right balance between work and happy times have been provided to each citizen. At the end of each day, if the happiness quota has been achieved, local governments release a cloud of happiness. This chemical cloud contains antidepressants medicine, used to sustain happiness overnight. A new range of practices also appeared in the city, from the black market selling happy boosts to accelerate the individual growth of happiness to the Enthusiasts divisions crafting a positive propaganda campaign all around the city. With happiness as a social norm, a new form of marginality raised. Some as the Neo Luddites seek authentic happiness when others, The Spleens, have to hide to enjoy melancholia.