Reconnecting in the Third Place: Social Catalysts to Counter Loneliness and Social Isolation in Urban Environments
As contemporary pathologies of urban environments, loneliness and social isolation are consequences of increasingly fragile social networks caused by atomized and mobile customs and the erosion of social infrastructures due to city growth. The scarcity of third places and other gathering spaces outside of everyday environments provide individuals with few opportunities to develop connections in familiar environments. This thesis proposes the introduction of a Social Catalyst in North End Halifax, a community in Halifax, Nova Scotia presenting symptoms of fragile social networks, to reinforce its existing social environment. Informed by the neighbourhood’s social infrastructure and its inherent rhythms, the catalyst combines programmatic spaces adapted to the community with social complements to generate a common ground and social anchors. Following individual social capacities and cognition, catalytic social devices are applied in the project’s spatial organization and details to foster and strengthen opportunities of interactions with others.