Within New Zealand there is a disheartening and growing representation of youth experiencing feelings of social isolation and loneliness - an issue commonly only recognized after the culmination of its consequences occur. Those of 18-24-year olds are the cause for greatest current and future concern, yet, are the least researched age group. Architecture has the ability to influence physiological and psychological functioning, and thus may be used to positively affect wellbeing and experiences of loneliness. This thesis questions how architecture can more appropriately address experiences of social isolation and loneliness within student halls of residence in New Zealand through designing for wellbeing and atmosphere.
To progress the research, this thesis implements both research for design and research through design. Research for design is utilized to provide a context for social isolation and loneliness in relation to wellbeing, as well as a theoretical context for atmosphere within architecture. Wellbeing and atmosphere are subsequently utilized as a framework to assess the case studies through how they support the senses, connection, surrounding objects, levels of intimacy, and material compatibility. Research through design is then utilized at two differing scales that increase in complexity, whereby each design is informed by the prior to test the practical and theoretical understanding of wellbeing and atmosphere. The first scale, a residential hall of residence, explores how wellbeing and atmosphere may be generated for a small group of people. The second scale and outcome, a public scale university hall of residence, expresses how wellbeing and atmosphere may be generated for a large group of people. Ultimately, this thesis concludes that through appropriately addressing the senses, connection, material compatibility, levels of intimacy, and surrounding objects the experience of social isolation and loneliness in student halls of residence may be improved.