The ‘Social Cities’ report recently published by the Grattan Institute shows that whilst Australian cities have paid great attention to making cities more sustainable and productive they have neglected the ‘social’ aspect of cities and the need to create places for social interaction. Single households are on the rise in Australia creating more lonely and isolated Australians, the report outlines the need for design solutions to provide more places for social connection within communities. Social connections and interaction is beneficial to overall mental well-being.
“Social connection is becoming more widely recognised as an important goal in the design of streets and the architecture of buildings….”
The report reviews the role of various types of spaces including public and private spaces in neighbourhoods, streetscapes, building typologies and edges. Also covered in the report is the various forms of investment through various types of projects that can be undertaken by governments, organisations and individuals to improve social connections such as community events, walking groups, pop-up parks, pavement connections to parks and public art.
Many various organisations such as Australian Institute of Landscape Architects are appealing to governments (local, state and federal) to invest in places for social interaction. Kirsten Bauer, President of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) is concerned that many of the parks in Australian suburbs are underfunded, lack facilities and are poorly maintained. “They are important places for communities to gather and for neighbours to meet. They provide peaceful settings to relax and find solitude as well as important ecological values . It is vital that there is adequate investment in parks across Melbourne so that all communities can enjoy these benefits” said Kirsten.
Public open space, parklands, public spaces and public infrastructure are critical to the health and wellbeing of the community. These places embrace cultural, social and age differences and provide the common ground for reconciliation, social engagement and recreation for our communities. “Parks are a vital part of Melbourne and play an important role in knitting communities together.” Kirsten said.
Download the Social Cities report