- Words and images by Luke Cameron
Goal & objective
Urban loneliness is a significant and growing public health issue. Loneliness can be as bad for our health as smoking, and places a huge strain on the economy and society, as well as individual mental health. It’s estimated that 9 million people in the UK often experience loneliness, with London consistently topping lists for the loneliest city in the world. While not attempting to simplify the complexities of loneliness, by adopting a deterministic view of the built environment’s influence, Comfort Zones aims to provide an alternative narrative for densification of housing estates, one that acknowledges the role architecture has on the prevalence of loneliness.
The proposal keeps the densest block on the site, retaining 60 per cent of the existing homes, upgrading their envelope and circulation. The lower four- and two-storey brick maisonettes are replaced with six- to eight-storey apartment blocks that wrap around the site forming a new city block. Two main design strategies:
• Encourage connection – amenity space is interwoven with circulation to encourage chance interaction
• Allow adaptation – flexible units meet the needs of changing demographics and allow long-term residence, helping to strengthen communal bonds
The provision of high-density housing that allows inhabitants to live both private and public lives gives more opportunities for connection. The ability to adapt dwellings allows families to maintain roots in the city. Hopefully together they mitigate feelings of isolation sometimes experienced by residents.
Wyke Estate, Homerton, London Borough of Hackney
Hackney Council & Wyke Residents Association