The Lonely Club - Re-establishing a Social Network
Ashley Waitt / UK
Throughout “Sapiens” Dr. Yuval Noah Harari argues that Homo Sapiens are social animals and that the Digital Revolution is asking Sapiens to evolve faster than ever in history. Theoretically the Digital Revolution offers infinite opportunities for social exchange, knowledge transfer and social mobility and yet, paradoxically, the UK’s population is experiencing alarming statistics of social and economic division, loneliness and isolation.
As feelings of disfranchisement and disempowerment grow, alongside unaffordable contexts, Co-Habitation, Co-Living, Co-Working models, Open Source Learning and Free Ware initiatives the sharing of physical, intellectual and technological space is increasing, becoming the norm, rather than the exception.
Within this context this project, through retrofitting, Wikihouse community assembling and governed space standards, develops a mixed-use proposal that provides private, semi-private and public spaces, free knowledge and skills exchange, co-living model, which has the potential to be a viable alternative to the current UK housing crisis. This project provides a substitute to current housing policies and addresses issues of affordability, social mobility, exchange and healing whilst creating a physical truly social network.
The mass disposal of M.O.D Barracks sites, by 2032, within UK cities provides existing infrastructure and a canvas to explore the formation of this societal shift, which could be applied throughout all the Barrack sites. Economically by Local Authorities, gifting this land to the vulnerable and gaining capital from those able to do so, this project argues that the longer-term State burden of providing social housing, adult education, un-employment and sickness benefits could be proven to be dramatically reduced through long term goals, rather than a short financial gain. Conceptually, the historic physical and social structures of the barrack’s highly controlled micro community, which has a wider role in the protection of society, provides an interesting counter point to, and synergy with, the emerging project.
Aria Hill / USA
Loneliness transcends nearly any identifiers which typically divide the human population. Play, usually regarded as an act only acceptable for children to partake in, produces endorphins in the brain, which in turn, gives the party participating in the action a temporary feeling of happiness. Additionally, if a party of individuals collectively experience activities that encourage the participation of all members, interpersonal relationships may start to germinate. Taking advantage of this information, one can suppose that if three strangers were to embark on a journey—a multi-sensory journey—in which the challenges, or playful elements, were not made aware of before the start of said journey, the feeling of loneliness may temporarily be satiated by their play and may be permanently satiated by the relationships developed through the timeline of their plight of recreation.
The Future of Mixed Use Communities
Peter Gorton / UK
The idea behind the project came from a survey taken from the residents of Ellesmere Port, a small town in North West England (and also the location of my design.) I asked them "what is your opinion/concern regarding loneliness and social isolation?"
Many of the responses were that social media/computer consoles are brainwashing our population and thus causing an unhealthy state of mind due to the lack of interaction with the outside world.
Their second concern was the thought of becoming lonely at an elderly age, potentially not having friends, relatives or neighbours that would visit them. These opinions/concerns gave me the idea of an "intergenerational mixed-use housing community," a community that would be structured around a courtyard space with interactive elements within and throughout, that encourage interaction.
In my opinion, loneliness and social isolation can be seen as a result of our built environment. In particular some of our housing typologies have been arranged outward facing, detached from one another, with fences separating each property and therefore inadvertently creating social isolation.
All Change Here
Sam Brooke and Harry Tindale / UK
Cities can be lonely places. Often, the bigger the city and more people around you, you find yourself feeling more isolated. This feeling is compounded during your daily commute; standing at a station waiting for train with hundreds of fellow commuters, each sharing the same daily ritual- yet cut off from one another, staring down at your phone, plugged into a virtual world.
Levels of interaction can amount to simply an ‘excuse me’ in hours of travel. This is a time when people are pausing for extended lengths, so why not take advantage of these solitary instances. Our idea suggests emphasising the shared annoyance found during the commute. Can shared instances of delays, accidental bumping into and constant stop-start transit be celebrated through design?
In All Change Here, we imagine the local train station as a place where experiences such as ‘excuse me’ or ‘I beg your pardon,’ are exaggerated into almost absurd interactions. We have aimed to do this by re-examining the designs of commonplace elements of the daily commute. Contraptions become catalysts to strike random relationships. Footbridges with multiple crossings and pathways encourage communication of intended movements and face-to-face contact. Concaved timetables position commuters to face one another and reinforce discussion and conversation. User-operated rain covers require consensus and cooperation to be deployed. To overcome the draw of the personal phone, tweets, posts and photographs as well as rolling news coverage is projected upon screens within the platform intend to draw commuters’ gaze out of their lap and into their surroundings. We believe there is no one way to eliminate loneliness; it is not something changed in one instance. Here, we simply emphasise conditions where by connections manifest over time- something that can be realistically implemented within the environment of the train station.