Design For Social Inclusion Considers Sustainability And Community
Communities have deteriorated in recent years insofar as their design for social inclusion is considered. The Internet and community of Facebook friends and followers have supplanted the traditional neighborhood and extended family. The great success of these social media is indicative of the yearning of modern city dwellers for the sense of community that prevailed in cities and town across America and the world prior to the industrial revolution of the 20th century.
The disappearance of the family farm is indicative of changing community standards. And yet people still seek these ties and bonds of important social interaction. One could easily make the case that the growth of retirement homes and assisted living facilities is indicative of a desire for increased social inclusion in the fabric of society. The exclusive gated community of expensive homes may in fact be an inclusive rather than exclusive phenomenon.
The desire for sustainability, organic produce and green energy solutions reflect modern design for social inclusion. In these cases, the inclusion is future unborn generations. The importance of conservation and environmental protection are very real, but they are reflective of a deeper need within their proponents: the need for a socially sustainable community. Modern sprawl and expanding infrastructure have left people with a need for a sense of community. Some turn to like-minded individuals for this social interaction. Design for social inclusion is a process that addresses these basic human needs.
A busy office may be designed to encourage relationships when social factors are considered. For example, a great open space with hundreds of people may be excluding rather than inclusive because the crowds may intimidate individual interaction. Small groups of desks can effectively promote friendships and worker interactions. Some of the considerations for socially responsible design might include the following.
- What is the smallest and largest group that would encourage individuals to actively participate?
- By breaking down large groups into smaller units, how might a company benefit from the increased one-on-one interactions thus facilitated?
- What is the most effective way to create social responsibility on the part of individual workers?
- Should workers be grouped by specialty, martial status or age? Which subsets promote the best interaction?
Many surveys and anecdotal evidence indicate that important social interaction with fellow workers is an important factor listed by those who claim to enjoy great job satisfaction.
Nursing Home Care
Those who are thrown together by age and health considerations seem to be a natural for social bonding, but this is not necessarily the case. Poor nursing or retirement home design can alienate individuals who withdraw to their rooms and tune out. Some of the ways design for social inclusion can be accomplished in this type of environment include the following.
- Long corridors can be forbidding to residents and patients. If doors are built at maximum distance from each other, the chances for people to meet and interact with neighbors is reduced. Individual pods can encourage social interaction. Staff can better interact with patients as well.
- All services should be local in nature. Pod residents should dine together, have their medical appointments at the same time and enjoy recreation and entertainment with fellow members of their own pod. This will encourage the kind of bonding that promotes living satisfaction.
This neighborhood paradigm can be applied to office situations, creating pods or neighborhoods within large organizations to promote social interaction. Modern workers leave their alarmed and gated homes and travel in their private vehicles to a job where they work in a private office or cubicle. Chances for interaction are very limited in this kind of existence, so it is no wonder that social media and handheld devices have come so popular since they allow people to connect on some level with one another.