Alleviating urban loneliness

Proposal for a new neighbourhood in the city of Eindhoven, with a particular focus on one of its residential blocks.This thesis challenges the overly-simplistic (and economically-driven) responses to urban loneliness offered by convenience-oriented modes of co-living, and responds with a workable alternative that seeks to embed a more-intuitive hierarchy of values. Spaces not just for pro-social activities, but also for passive interactions (“soft edges”) and personal privacy are therefore embedded in the design from its earliest stage. At its heart, the project celebrates and provides a framework for the development of user-appropriated, restorative environments. This is achieved through creating a mosaic of “pockets” of space; a fixed patchwork of varied characteristics designed to “kick-start” the process of user-appropriation. At the centre of each dwelling, the ornamental embedding of architectural “hardware” empowers its users with a customisable layout; to exercise choice and control in how they wish to connect or withdraw from fellow residents. In material terms, each central unit also acts as an “identity anchor”; providing each dwelling with its own powerful sense of individuality. Applied at larger scales, this combination of general coherency and individual identity, ingrained within a wider mosaic of varied qualities, establishes the forms of space required for successful “opt-in” interactions. Through this, the project seeks to invert the commonly-accepted narrative of scrutinised solitude and forced togetherness to one of restorative solitude and wilful togetherness.

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