Humans are social animals: relationships are critical to our wellbeing. Grattan’s new report, Social Cities, argues that the way we build and organise our cities is crucial to the quantity and quality of social connection, which in turn is critical to our psychological and physical health. Of course many other factors also influence our levels of connectedness – from individual disposition to family situation – but some kinds of urban design can encourage social connection, while others may ‘build in’ isolation.
The capacity of growing Australian cities to absorb larger populations and improve quality of life for all residents will depend to a considerable degree on the extent to which the urban environment promotes or hinders social connection. Our report aims to put social connection firmly on the agenda for decision making about cities at every level – from the overall shape of the city, to neighbourhoods, streets and buildings.
Report author Jane-Frances Kelly discussed the report and its recommendations with leading economist Professor Ian Harper in a conversation chaired by Peter Mares.