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

dc.contributor.authorLodha, Bhavikaen
dc.contributor.committeechairJones, James R.en
dc.contributor.committeememberGipe, Andrewen
dc.contributor.committeememberIshida, Akien
dc.description.abstractMy 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.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralAs Frank Lloyd Wright has told, "We create our buildings and then they create us. Likewise we construct our circle of friends and our communities and then they construct us." Humans are social beings and we have an inert need for social connections and interactions with other humans and nature. We crave the warmth of human connection, the solace of shared laughter, and the embrace of understanding souls. Lack of social interactions and sense of belonging can lead to social isolation and loneliness, and can have really detrimental effects on one's physical and mental health and also on a society as a whole. As Patricia Churchland has told "We long to belong, and belonging and caring anchors our sense of place in the universe." Architecture of the community has the potential or obligation to create a sense of community and belonging by providing opportunities for human interactions, celebrating gathering spaces and visual communication within the community. In the midst of the urban sprawl, the need for community is palpable, like a silent cry echoing through the concrete jungle. With the more vertical the residential units get the social interactions are almost completely lost as it is only double loaded corridors with houses on either sides with uncomfortable, awkward to almost zero human interactions. Even in vertical living we need to keep in mind that those beautiful views from the 12th floor have no value if you are still feeling socially isolated. My thesis focuses on tackling loneliness through the Built Environment and understanding what are the architecture barriers of social interaction. Through my thesis I have explored different strategies developed through my research to foster the sense of community and belonging. I am exploring these ideas in the context of Washington D.C. which is claimed to be one of the loneliest cities in the United States.en
dc.description.degreeMaster of Architectureen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectSense of Belongingen
dc.subjectHuman Interactionsen
dc.subjectSocial Isolationen
dc.titleThe Pause: Re-Thinking Housing Through a Lens of Social Isolation and Lonelinessen
dc.typeThesisen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Architectureen


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