Discussion Boards – 1 – Social Fabric and Structure

Social Fabric and Structure

Summary of the Social Fabric and Structure discussion from the previous consultation in January 2021

  • The pandemic has meant human need and suffering has exploded. The potential rupture of civility and unravelling of society is very real.
  • People are living in insular bubbles due to a physical limitation of interactions and a retreat into technology. This has implications on mental health and well-being with increased loneliness, anxiety and depression. A bubble world connected through technology has increased inequality, depending on where one lives in the world.
  • Inequality has also been exacerbated as the health crisis has impacted marginalised groups to a greater extent. Access to technology has further increased inequality as a tool of communication and home schooling.
  • The pandemic has also created divisions between people regarding people who obey lockdown rules and those who don’t, this has brought up the issue of trust.
  • However, the pandemic has also generated the need for self reliance, resilient communities and efforts to build a shared sense of community out of wish, rather than need.
  • There has also been more of an appreciation of the ‘local’, a sense of community and the simpler things in life.

What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you think the solutions to this topic are as we move out of the pandemic?


  1. Dan Burden
    February 14, 2021 at 7:10 am · Reply

    Social inequality is impacted by the design of cities. From decisions on where community-dividing freeways and superhighways are built to schools and parks placement, to homes turning their backs to streets, to even how far a person must drive to qualify for a mortgage. The sum of these “dividing designs” determines who a person will interact with, and how much time they have to socialize with others.

  2. Dan Burden
    February 14, 2021 at 7:18 am · Reply

    Both the pattern and design of streets create social division. In his 1981 landmark study, Livable Streets, Dr. Donald Appleyard demonstrated that how many friends or associates one has on their block is determined by the speed and volume of cars. His empirical research demonstrated that residents of the street with low car traffic volume had three times more friends than those living on the street with high car traffic.

  3. Dan Burden
    February 14, 2021 at 7:31 am · Reply

    High social engagement neighborhoods are heavily influenced by the density and mix of uses in a given block or multi-block area. The richer the mix, the more likely people feel comfortable and bump into strangers. Cities of the future must be designed for high “Bumpintoitiveness’. To achieve this calls for removing restrictive zoning and other codes.

    • Celine Beurle
      February 19, 2021 at 9:26 am · Reply

      Thanks Dan for your comments .. you make excellent points.

  4. dan.burden@bluezones.com
    February 14, 2021 at 7:35 am · Reply

    Social engagement is dictated by urban design. In her 1961 seminal work, Life and Death of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs points out “…there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind.

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