Lonely days in Austrailia
I admit that I have never been to Australia, but I always think of it, in the cities at least, as a pretty sociable outgoing place. So it was surprising to see this report from Architecture & Design saying that people’s lives are becoming lonelier, and that architecture is, at least in part, to blame.
Some of this is to be expected, such as the statistic that more people live on their own. This is just a reflection of demographic changes across the developed world. But the report goes on to say that people should be able to interact better in public spaces – and that architecture is making this more difficult. A report called Social Cities, produced by the Grattan Institute, argues that Australians need everything from more sports facilities to the occasional bench around the edge of a public square, to create environments in which people can be with other people – and if not, it warns, health could be at risk.
Designers and developers pay too much attention to the material wellbeing of our cities and their efficiency, the article says, and not enough to the mental and social wellbeing of its inhabitants.
It is always good to see a call for better urban design, particularly when the Grattan Institute stresses that many of its suggestions are eminently affordable.
Australia may be a long way away, but it sounds as if there could be lessons for the buttoned-up Brits.