Social Value Toolkit

Author RIBA

This RIBA resource introduces a Social Value Toolkit for architecture and the built environment. It provides practical guidance about how the impact of design, built environment, and placemaking on people’s wellbeing, and social values such as positive emotions, social connection, freedom, flexibility, and participation, can be measured. It aims to generate data to better understand how design can be used to make great places for people to live and work, with applicability to understanding the social value of our high streets.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

*This resource is about built environment and social value. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to the liveability and recreational space priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

This resource from RIBA introduces a Social Value Toolkit for architecture and the built environment. It provides practical guidance about how the impact of design, built environment, and placemaking on people’s wellbeing can be measured, in order to better understand how design can be used to make great places for people to live and work. Based on a review of literature around wellbeing, the authors explain how the social value outcomes delivered by great places, include generating positive emotions in place users, enabling social connections and connections with nature, inspiring a sense of freedom and flexibility, and involves citizen participation in any design decisions.

Specifically, the document offers a practical methodology, including both quantitative and qualitative aspects, for others to draw upon in measuring the wellbeing and social value of built environment, design and placemaking. In order to demonstrate how the methodology can work in practice, a worked example of housing and neighbourhood design is provided. However, as the authors explain, it can be adapted to other contexts, such as the built environment or placemaking on a high street or town centre. The methodology includes a series of questions that could be asked of place users and the local community, either in the form of a questionnaire, interview, or focus group, depending on participant needs. These questions are grouped around positive emotions, connecting, freedom and flexibility, and participation. Next, advice about how to calculate the monetisation of any design initiatives and social values is provided, followed by how to analyse and make use of the data generated through this suggested methodology, and how to put in place ethical processes in such research.