The growing Australian population, smaller living spaces and advances in technology are allowing us to become more urbanised and isolated. So how do we stop it?
While mankind continues to progress in so many ways, we are beginning to lose sight of a fundamental part that makes us human – our primal need for belonging.
At the recent IKEA x VIVID panel, IKEA’s head of interior design, Tiffany Buckins and Dr Thea Brezjek, Professor of Spatial Theory at UTS discussed the future of home design.
Surprisingly, the general vision was to recalibrate our human need for belonging in a community and creating spaces where individuals, isolated by technologies and urbanised locations, can still feel part of a group.
We need to go backwards, to go forwards
The concept of making a house a home has never been more important.
Dr Thea – who has partnered with IKEA to create IKEA x UTS Future Living Lab to analyse spaces and how we work in them – says we are being affected by the loss of family time.
"The loss of talking to each other, telling stories, letting other people know how you feel, how your day has been – these are activities that take commitment, but they also need a place in your home that is attractive enough for people to go there and to interact with each other," Dr Thea explains.
"We realised what we are doing actually goes far beyond the home, but always has its origins in the home. The home in public discourse is very much overlooked."
While people may sit in a room with each other, they don't interact and that is the beginning of isolation within an urban environment.
The growing concern is that people are experiencing loneliness in their home and not feeling attached to their community. With the interruption of technological devices, like smart phones and computers, human interaction is lessened to a point where people lose their sense of belonging.
As a primal, pack species, this has detrimental effects to our sense of worth.
It's about community
Considering we live closer together but feel more isolated, Dr Thea says the way forward is to think about living as a community, whether you own or rent your home.
The idea of co-living in a sustainable, communal structure is a viable model where people can have their own living space, while being part of a community.
Nightingale Housing in Melbourne is working proof that this concept works.
Here, people can buy together, design together and live in that space as a community. It even has a shared rooftop garden, which encourages a feeling of togetherness.
"I think the idea of a co-design, or what we call a participative design - where you design together with your stakeholders, is a fabulous thing,” Dr Thea says.
"But, it requires a lot of courage, because if you promise co-design, you have to deliver co-design. While that is a very complex thing to do, it's very worthwhile.”
The idea of ‘home’ needs to change
In the future the way we live in our home is set to be vastly different to how we currently view our home.
"We have a very unusual housing situation in Australia where home ownership still seems to be the ultimate goal, however, the reality for many people is that they will be renting all their lives," Dr. Thea tells.
"I do think the future is not the suburban living, because the future is we want to be close to amenities, close to culture. We’re talking about not being lonely, and suburbs can be a very lonely place," says Dr. Thea.
"At the end of the day, it’s probably the co-creation aspect that I think will serve the biggest purpose in the future," says Tiffany.