Involuntary loneliness is a public health issue. It has been proven to be harmful and can contribute to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Psychologist Anna Bennich has great knowledge about loneliness. In a radio show (Sommar i P1, 2020) she mentions that there are about one million Swedes who are feeling lonely, that about 13% of the population say they don´t have a close friend and over 300,000 Swedes are socially isolated – and this even before the pandemic.
In this project, I have asked myself the question – what can we do to eliminate loneliness in society? Anna Bennich emphasizes the importance of what we sometimes so casually call small talk. So why not simply talk about the weather? We need to get better at meeting other people, and for that we need nice places to meet. The places where we can meet in society are called social infrastructures, and in the book Palaces for the people, sociologist Eric Klinenberg describes how cherishing these places can help fight inequality and polarization (Klinenberg, 2018).
Based on loneliness as a public health issue and the importance of social infrastructures, I have designed a meeting place which concept is intended as a complement to existing parks or green areas around Gothenburg. The meeting place consists of two key words: play that evokes joy, and weather which from a new perspective creates a topic of conversation. Play is mediated in the form of swings and the carousel-like shape of the place. The spatial experience at the site differs as it is affected by the weather, and in Gothenburg it rains often and quite a lot.
From a swing, the visitor can experience the weather from a new perspective at a swaying pace, and perhaps chat about the experience with the person swinging next to them. It would certainly have a positive effect if we became more involved. Most of us have our own experience of loneliness after all.