The Anti-Loneliness Machine

Bachelor of Architecture

Advised by:
Stefan Gruber
Jonathan Kline
Valentina Vavasis

Studio Coordinated By Stefan Gruber and Jonathan Kline

Themes: Narrative | Culture | Ecology


My proposal dives into the complex social organization of a diverse range of residents living cooperatively. Diversity in age, occupation, culture, lifetime goals but similarity in desire for personal company, connection, economic reliability, and overlapping interests. The involvment includes common/unique material objects positioned within the spatial composition.The Commoning design is based around the mutual benefit for all intergenerational parties. 

Editor’s Notes: A proposed design space is not the most absolute, but it is the representation of a mindful practice into the physical context that matters most(i.e. household items,furniture, & walls). The thesis depends almost entirely on new social models of those situated inbetween the uncertain, confused, and transitory moments and spaces of their lives.*

[Depression, A Public Feeling::] ANN CVETKOVICH
“Domestic worry is compounded by the awareness of the insularity — by the anxiety of knowing that it’s both barrier and buffer against other (larger) worries and other (more real) wars.”

I wanted to begin with a short quote from Ann Cvetkovich from her text called Depression, a Public Feeling.  How I can understand from this reading is that sometimes the practice of critique and empathy in communication is reparative in everyday life. Understanding the differences within a diverse environment  through a slower, anticipating rate threading into a more meaningful engagement. At the larger scale, such as a city or any type of urban setting, it is almost impossible to avoid the difficulty of  approaching and relating to these conflicting differences between each other. Not always are these conversations marked by common interests and happy conclusions, but rather embraced through similar struggles and routes we take on life. In part, these conversations can lead to something even more meaningful, moving into something clearer and interpersonally resilient as we live. Perhaps this commentary can remind us that one’s privacy (a privacy we often see as a separation from each other) may well be a starting point in acknowledging our different domestic kinships, care, and beliefs. We first proceed in addressing these “private lives of public cultures”.

This is a project that accounts the moments of those in transition from school to work, from work to retirement, to the aging. And those of the defiant or the unorthodox individuals. This is a project about the sharing of ideas along with the material items within an intergenerational living structure. It involves a strategy of overlapping similar desires for economic, social, and mental benefits. Along with alternative ways of cultivating one’s own individual skills and interests in a slower pace and anticipated environment, like a home.

[PART 1]

The following boards dissect the separate factors of the people, items or things, and space involved in creating an engaging and well-paced environment. 
I want to begin by taking into account the following types of dwellers. In general we could call this group the “Intergenerationals”. As mentioned previously these include the aging ( those prior to more intensive care nursing homes), the students, part-timers, the outliers, or any of those who are seeking for better opportunities of either financial savings, individual skill investment, or social and health networking. These liabilities of health and social networking along with expenses, can be created through the physical exchanges within an environment of both the commons and the private spaces. To approach, the project investigates the housing format of a cooperative to achieve cheaper housing and services. This is why I decided to pick a location in a Pittsburgh neighborhood, since there are increasing incoming outsiders such as students and employees along with rising seniors. We also see these patterns similarly nationally.

[PART 2]

Before any personal social exchanges are made, a common practice may fundamentally well begin the physical exchanges through items. If someone needs help or has a similar interest in building something for everyone to use, they can communicate freely.  These actions and physical exchanges may either be set up through passive strategies and active strategies. In this case I called these two strategies a converging method. 

[PART 3]
In part to these exchanges of skills and involvement of shared items, the planned and unplanned  overlapping activities within a space provide a momentary opportunity for more personal exchanges. (aka the active and passive). To reiterate, these spaces are a design attempt in organizing a more well-rounded  pace of the social intimacy building through the different degrees of activities (passive and constructive). Let’s look into these case study examples on a Saturday Afternoon for example. The passive as described are the spaces of the most serendipitous period of time.  The active are the constructed and organized activities for anyone to join in at any time. These spaces may intervene with the other spaces at this time—creating more possible micro interaction.  In these cases, there are specific item storages for these particular activities, such as gardening. Something similar would be ceramics, and woodshop. A household piece would include this open-door tool/equipment storage as you see above. 

[PART 4]
To activate and cultivate these experiences, we have to rethink the way of organizing ownership in benefit for all parties. We need to identify what each agent typically desires. So first we lay out the types of spaces there are. There are individual units for private living (own bedroom; living room; bathroom). These are all owned by aging seniors (again those at that moment who are still physically and mentally capable). Seniors each own their private living spaces. But each also owns another unit that will be rented out to: students; part time, full-time workers, and visitors. Each of these stakeholders will be benefited by cheaper housing while accommodated differently by their institutions or employer. The Common spaces are opened, meaning anyone can use these and contribute to the space but are owned collectively by the seniors. Each will also have a varied duration of stay. The senior has a longer stay. Eventually, their ownership will be bought by the next incoming senior resident before they move into higher care facilities. The Joker Units are also known as wildcard units. This is where the active /constructed strategies are conducted by. These are shorter term rents for fellowship members such as various artists or activity organizers. Along with their own units include a dedicated space for those related activities. There can also be detached units located outside with courtyards as common spaces.  Design organization involves the ideas of shared labor and time commitment between each person. (like the board with the items and activities being exchanged). One person does one thing to help out another while the other is doing the same, etc

[PART 5]

For the design intervention, my site takes place in the Hazelwood Green campus as part of the ongoing development. In short,  the neighborhood context considers for the incoming influx of transitory residents and current residents of those aging. This location was ideal because it sits between the housing fabric and huge development across from that. This was a strategy to break through the threshold. There is a commercial district with public services such as; Carnegie library; Community Kitchen, Family Center, and Hazelwood Initiative.

[In questioning and challenging the worries of the Daily Life]
What are strategies to realign the human to human and human to material relationships in redistributing the mental capital, all capitals, and resources to better benefit the collective mutually? What can we alter and design proactive spaces in relation to our social needs? How do we move away from the conformed living of independent and traditional kinships for better environments of co dependencies across different groups? What are alternative strategies of cultivating one’s own individual skills and interests in a non-hertreonormative family structure?

[Depression, A Public Feeling::] ANN CVETKOVICH
“Domestic worry is compounded by the awareness of the insularity — by the anxiety of knowing that it’s both barrier and buffer against other (larger) worries and other (more real) wars.”

Perhaps this commentary on the depression buffer in one’s private dwelling manifests into more distant relations and understanding between each person. We who often are seen as separate from others with our own type of kinships, care, and beliefs live in a distant “private life of public cultures”. 
A conformed domesticity acts as a personal sanctuary from anxieties and fears produced by the economic, social, racial, and both mental and physical health discrepancies of cultural views in America. In contrast, those who are not only able to seek and achieve these Western ideologies of wealth and safety independently, tend to not have the right to have standard access to housing, education, and health. Ultimately, it has led those of the unfortuitous to lose or to be kept away from personal sanctuary (domestic home and full-independence).

We reach a point where a more common practice of collective aid and network between different groups and people of different occupations can begin to provide a sense of safety and comfort in proximity. A lot of this may be centered around someone's personal domesticity and its connected-ness with the types of spaces, which may be the first thing to look more closely into. The types of micro relationships and interactions include a person’s very specific schedule, diet, or necessity. Private spaces are adopted spaces from the private culture. There is no real tie to the public reality and intimacy between other people even though we share the same feeling of depression and need for sanctuary.


Sectionalized-Urbia (from a perspective of a 1st Gen.)

*An attitude of escapism of families constructed into their private hideaways are disassociated from the rest of the existing diversity. These tendencies and copies of isolation have led those with backgrounds either from a status of immigration to the non-heterogeneous structures in separation from the other neighboring marginalized communities in physical proximity; these separation may still occur even with the two conditions of close and far distances. Those offsprings situated within these fabric conditions (i.e. 1st generation immigrants) are born into the foundations of their own cultures and practices. Similarly to those who lacked the presence of specific relatives from the previous generations (Seventh Generation Stewardship). Some are more impactful, others may result less.

The tendency falls in between a spectrum of either two working scenarios: One is to slowly move away from these fundamental ideas due to their expectations in the relationships to their neighbor within the same fabric. The latter is lacking the external perspective and involuntarily falling into the compartmentalized identity. This is not to say these scenarios are fallacies, rather as two different learning (yet confusing) methods that describe a way of perceiving within their environment from each own’s hideout.

Individualism, market logic, and self-care around the idea of ‘maternal kinship’ has led to a following series of resource restriction and gatekeeping of supply and labor through monetary expenses. This leaves to creating privatized social and labor services in more suburban neighborhoods and in city neighborhoods. Privatized companies and sourcing and servicing the basic needs of care overtime increase in value as demand increases. Corporations marketing and branding of “wellness and care” for “everyday care needs” (i.e. pet supplies; baby supplies; housing supplies; etc) overshadow the consequences in production of those supplies. That itself is a contradiction in which is described as “carewashing” (Care Manifesto 2020_p17).

Careless Kinship in ‘Maternal Bond for Care’

In adjunction to Dolores H. 's Redesigning the American Dream, the suburban development and establishment of certain stakeholders and identity within the household should shape the typical responsibilities of care. Part of the conditioned model includes the idea of every individual to outsource from private markets to support those within the traditional nuclear families of a husband, wife, and kids. In contemporary society, how does this affect those who do not fit into this family model along with those who don't have the affordances for care. Historical narrative of gender conditions along with misconceptions lead to the “devalue” and social hierarchy of care globally; the unpaid, the undervalued, the lacking of benefits in these necessary works.