Kinship in the City Report

This report explores the impact of urban loneliness and ideas for reshaping our built environment to improve social cohesion. Produced as part of the Future Spaces Foundation’s Vital Cities programme, it builds on our existing body of research into the building blocks of dynamic, socially sustainable cities where individuals and communities can thrive.

Panellists and Contributors

Alex Cares

Founder, The Cares Family

“If you have a heart attack, there are two things that are most likely to keep you alive: one is not smoking, and the other is having relationships that really mean something to you and that you care about.”

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Andre Reid

Founder, KIONDO

“Retail spaces can have a positive impact on loneliness. The inclusivity of the design of retail spaces is crucial, though – the required baseline should be lifted to ensure spaces are more accessible than we see now.”

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Andrew Stevenson

Andrew Stevenson

Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University

“It’s important to have spaces in cities that are malleable and can be used for lots of things at the same time. A market’s a good example because it’s a place for selling and buying as well as community activism and learning projects. ”

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Daniel Blyden

Design Lead, Impact Hub Birmingham

“When people are involved in the process of making a place, they have a different sentiment towards it and a different sense of belonging.”

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Frank Filskow

Architect, Make Architects

“We all have a role to play in our jobs here. We must think about how we improve the way people live together and how we can make better places.”

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Ian Treherne

Founder, Ian Treherne Photography

“If people have purpose, it keeps them active, involved, engaged. If they don’t have that purpose and they’re also isolated, it’s like a double whammy of being totally cut off.”

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Imogen Webb

Architect, Make Architects

“[In shared living schemes] the idea is to put some of the functions you need for living outside of private zones to promote social interaction. You might offer shared kitchens or roof gardens or laundry rooms or cinemas for residents to use together – really nice spaces that are better and bigger than anything you’d have access to when living in an individual flat. Something that started coming out of my research was this whole issue around loneliness and how we could promote community within a housing development while still making sure the private living spaces are suitable for the types of people who live in them, including families and the elderly.”

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Joel Charles

Director of Government Relations and Impact, Future Care Capital

“The government should look closely at the national planning framework to consider enhanced provisions for community spaces in built-up urban centres.”

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Katy Ghahremani

Director, Make Architects

“Thinking commercially about the issue of loneliness could potentially open up some more options and answers that we can develop… It’s about the role of the commercial developer as well as the local authority.”

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Dr Ken Shuttleworth

Founder, Make Architects and Panel Chairman

“With its distinct human element and wide demographic reach, urban loneliness is a natural topic of interest for us.... We've teamed up with experts across the built environment industry to explore how the places where we live, work and socialize can both cause and combat loneliness.”

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Lee Mallett

Founder, Urbik

“The notion of accessibility as a means for addressing loneliness and access to services is actually quite strongly enshrined in policy, but it’s not identified as a core, broad issue. It’s narrowly defined, with lip service paid to accessibility in physical terms rather than its wider social impact. But accessibility is about more than the physical solutions that make a building physically accessible.”

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Peter Greaves

Architect, Make Architects

“Localised schemes are important, like high streets that give people shared spaces where they can feel a sense of ownership and interact with small clusters of people. Cities are a relatively new idea, and the scale presents problems.”

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Sara Veale

Managing Editor, Future Spaces Foundation and Make

“As actors in an industry increasingly attuned to the human costs of loneliness, architects can play a vital role in creating opportunities for meaningful togetherness.”

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Video

How can we reshape the built environment to improve social connections?