More Americans are single than ever before, and more are living alone. That fact is one of the reasons we’re also starting to die earlier: one studyfound that living alone increases mortality risk 32%. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, has called isolation the most common health issue in the country.
Architect Grace Kim thinks that a solution may be differently designed housing. “Loneliness can be the result of our built environment,” she told an audience at TED 2017.
Even couples or families, she said, can be socially isolated in the typical house, and barely know neighbors (social isolation, as opposed to living alone, increases mortality risk 29%). In an apartment building, residents might be more likely to stare at their phones in the elevator than start a conversation. Kim, by contrast, lives and works in a cohousing community she designed in Seattle, where families or individuals each have their own homes, but the space was designed for interaction.
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