Lou Lou Twietmeyer
Activating University Spaces Through Play
Loneliness, defined as “The subjective distressed feeling of being alone or separated (NIH, 2019),” is a prevalent issue in the modern day. Loneliness has profound impacts on both the human body and psyche. It is linked with multiple mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as well as physical ailments like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and a weakened immune system.
Loneliness is especially overlooked as an issue in the young adult age group. Younger generations are lonelier than older generations. In a study done by UCLA and the health insurer Cigna, those surveyed in the Gen Z generation reported the highest rates of loneliness followed by Millennials. By contrast, individuals in the Baby Boomer and The Greatest Generation reported lower rates of loneliness. A major contributing factor to this “loneliness epidemic” in younger people is the rise of social media usage and the internet. Social media exacerbates social anxiety and loneliness in young people. It causes already lonely people to shy away from in-person interaction in favor of “safer” online ones.
This project aims to address the issue of loneliness through the redesign of outdoor spaces in University campuses. We can no longer rely on young people to structure their social lives on their own. There are more and more barriers to doing so. Universities must take action by designing spaces and programs that foster community and social interaction.