Throughout human history, people have migrated from one area to another for many reasons, including searching for better economic, political or other conditions that are assumed to improve the human standard of living (Kotkin 2016:6; United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2014). Migration to urban areas has increased over the past century, and is only expected to continue doing so. In 2016, 54% of earth’s human population lived within urban areas, making it the largest urban population ever to occur on the planet (Brenner & Schmidt 2014:733; United Nations Population Fund 2014). A 2013 study by El Din, Shalaby, Farouh and Elariane states that, with more of the human population residing in urban areas than in the past, studies around human life in urban areas are more significant and necessary for the sake of increasing knowledge bases for the development of sustainable human environments (El Din et al. 2013:87, 88). Architects and urban planners focus on improving the quality of life of the end users of their designs at a contextual level, which in turn is beneficial as a good quality of life is considered to be one of the most important aspects for sustainable urban development (Othman, Aird & Buys 2015:22). Over the past 15 years there has been a knowledge shift towards global parameters for measurement of quality of life that are not uniform or based solely on economic indicators, but rather are developed so that these indicators can be used to measure quality of life at a contextual level in order to supply informative data and results (United Nations Population Fund 2016; Vermuni & Costanza 2006:124). There are contextual differences, similarities and variations for the definition of a good quality of life between the large urban areas in the developed world as well as in countries within the Global South, which contains the majority of the world’s Third World countries (Rigg 2007:8-10). With the global continuation of the urbanisation of the human population in different contexts, along with the migration of individuals between different parts of the world, urban planners and architects are challenged to design spaces that provide good quality of life within any urban context for an end user coming from any urban or rural context. This study seeks to investigate the means of assessing quality of life in residential spaces of end users who share similar values in terms of quality of life, but will be studied in three varied urban contexts, namely Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Zimbabwe, is classified as a Low Income country by the United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs (2014), has experienced high levels of migration out of the country over the past 16 years (Humphris 2010), with the highest number of migrations into South Africa, which is classified as an Upper Middle Income Country, and the United Kingdom, classified as a High Income country (United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs 2014). This research paper seeks to measure and compare quality of life in the homes of Zimbabweans in the three contexts mentioned above, in order to gauge what aspects of residential design impact positively or negatively on the end user’s quality of life.
Mini Dissertation (MSc)--University of Pretoria, 2017.