Loneliness has become a global epidemic, and urban design can be either part of the problem or the solution.
Melbourne School of Design
The cities we build in turn shape our society. So when so many of us feel lonely, we should aim to apply what we know about the social impacts of design to help people connect with each other.
The community environment clearly has a large influence on child development, but exactly which factors are most important?
Research has started to identify the key factors in creating communities that promote good early childhood development.
Trusting our instincts is vital for better mental health.
People intuitively know what is best for their mental health. A new approach suggests enforcing this belief like regular exercise.
Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash
Research has shown that large social platforms like Facebook can reinforce problematic social hierarchies and prejudices around gender, sexuality and race.
An attitude of gratitude may relieve stress, which in turn may lead to better health.
Most parents try to teach their children to feel grateful. Now, some therapists and doctors are encouraging people to focus on gratitude, as studies show that gratitude can be good for health.
What are your in-groups and out-groups?
Our neural circuits lead us to find comfort in those like us and unease with those who differ, resulting in a battle between reward and distrust. But these brain connections aren’t the end of the story.
A retail street in Facebook’s proposed Willow Campus.
Facebook will build a village with housing and amenities in Silicon Valley, a new version of old, unsuccessful ideas of company towns and utopian communities. Will Facebook’s town face the same fate?
Running (or walking) with others is good for health and social connections. But you don’t have to aim for marathons.
Third places are most effective when, like Waverley Community Garden in Sydney, they appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Third places are shared spaces where people can informally socialise. As a potential antidote to the modern scourge of loneliness, it’s worth asking what makes the best of these places tick.
Both young and old can feel like they don’t belong. But loneliness is a social problem, with a social solution.
Campo Santa Maria Nova, in Venice, is a fine example of a compact, human-scale European plaza.
Done right, a plaza can bring life and a sense of identity to an area. So why has urban design in Australia neglected the town square in favour of green space, and what makes for a successful one?
The Sydney suburb of Liverpool, with its high concentration of ethnic migrants, has improved its levels of community trust since the Cronulla riots.
Trust has returned to areas with a higher concentration of ethnically diverse migrants significantly since 2005, but more must to be done if we want to avoid another Cronulla riot.
It’s important to young Australians to be able to walk and feel safe while doing so.
Victoria Walks ©
The benefits of walking are widely promoted, but most Australian communities still aren’t walker-friendly. Young people, who rely heavily on walking to get around, are clear about what has to change.
Connections between people and between people and places help create vibrant neighbourhoods with a sense of human identity and belonging.
Picture by Tommy Wong
The secret of creating attractive, liveable places sounds deceptively simple: connect people to places, people to transport and people to people.
Including community members as participants and co-creators of the Dragon of Shandon is central to the festival’s success.
OpenLens.ie/Dragon of Shandon
Urban festivals built on community involvement can reinvigorate places and create a shared sense of place and purpose that lasts long after the event is over.
Play activates cities and engages people, and by appropriating urban spaces it changes what these mean to people.
As adults we often trivialise the value of play. But playing games lets us play with possibilities, see how they play out – and exploring alternative realities helps us see the familiar in new ways.
Australia’s investment in community mental-health services is subordinate to our focus on care provided by public and private hospitals.
DAVID MARIUZ/AAP Image
Recently announced changes to private health insurance reinforce the primacy of hospitals for mental health issues. This is despite many inquiries recommending better community mental-health care.
Social connectedness supports our physical and mental health.
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash
Social connectedness is at least as good for your health as quitting smoking or exercise. So what is it and how can you get some of it?
Higher-density developments change neighbourhoods, often in ways that further disadvantage low-income households.
For the first time in Australia, more higher-density housing than detached housing was being built last year. Compact cities have pros and cons, but the downsides fall more heavily on the poor.
Why is it easier to imagine a green ecocity than a just city where everyone belongs?
the yes man/flickr
What is an economy for? And how do we build a community where everyone belongs? We need to answer questions like these to create good, sustainable cities.