The Pause: Re-Thinking Housing Through a Lens of Social Isolation and Loneliness

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Virginia Tech


My thesis explores the profound impact of contemporary residential architecture on social interaction and a sense of belonging among dwellers. Based on personal experiences in the United States, a critical examination reveals a prevailing trend towards isolation within modern living spaces, fostering disconnection and loneliness. As an architect, I have tried to investigate the spatial and architectural barriers that hinder social cohesion, emphasizing the vital role of "pauses" in facilitating human interaction and community engagement within built environments.

Drawing inspiration from historical precedents and vibrant urban settings like the North End in Boston and plazas in Paris, this study advocates for a transformative approach to residential design. By integrating elements reminiscent of lively streets into vertical housing projects, the aim is to create opportunities for spontaneous human interactions. The research delves into specific examples, such as the Foxridge apartments in Blacksburg, to identify and address architectural deficiencies that inhibit verbal and non-verbal communication.

Through innovative design interventions and strategic placement of communal spaces, my thesis proposes a paradigm shift towards architecture that fosters community bonds and enriches daily life experiences. It underscores the inherent potential of architecture to bridge societal divides and counterbalance the pervasive trend towards digital engagement, promoting holistic well-being through meaningful human connections. Ultimately, my thesis advocates for a human-centric architectural ethos, envisioning spaces that not only accommodate but actively cultivate a sense of belonging and social connectivity.



Housing, Sense of Belonging, Loneliness, Human Interactions, Social Isolation