Half a million Japanese people claim to be suffering from social isolation. The UK recently appointed a minister for loneliness, the first in the world. In Australia, Victoria MP Fiona Patten is calling for the same.
What do cities have to do with loneliness? According to a Grattan Institute report, the way we build and organize our cities can help or hinder social connections.
Think of the awkward silence in a lift full of passengers who never communicate. Now think of a playground, where parents often begin chatting. It is not that the built environment “causes” isolation, but it can certainly either encourage or constrain potential interactions.
Today’s young architects are taking this to heart. Melbourne School of Design student Diana Ong retrofitted the Ascot Vale rail station with “social engagement paraphernalia” to promote conversations and activity. And her colleague Michelle Curnow has proposed to convert train cars into “sensory experience cabins” that will attract people to explore the in-built gallery spaces and listen to other people’s stories while commuting. Who said commuting had to be boring?
Source: Fast Company