strong neighbourhood communities
The support of close relationships creates a happy life. It's an age-old wisdom now proven by scientific research. A support network is strongest when these relationships extend beyond the small nuclear family and are present and easily accessible in a person’s day to day life - something that's sorely missing in urban communities. Developing bonds within the community around one's home happened very naturally a couple of generations ago, but over the years, the design of our housing has created obstacles to human connections.
Current en masse suburban subdivisions and high-rise buildings are a poor model for community building. Contrasting this is people-centric housing design that clusters homes around hubs of communal life - a shared central garden, a courtyard or a common house. The designs are intentional in increasing opportunities for social interactions.
Taking inspiration from the Cohousing model and the work of Ross Chapin on pocket neighbourhoods, people-centric housing has these key characteristics beyond the inclusion and inviting design of shared spaces:
- The shared spaces are located such that people are certain to encounter them as they walk from the complex entrance to their homes.
- Active rooms of homes - such as kitchens - are oriented to look onto the gardens and any activity happening there, enticing people to participate.
- Cars are kept at bay with parking at the perimeter so the complex grounds are completely pedestrian.
- A large communal kitchen in the common house (in addition to in-home private kitchens) provides the opportunity for shared meals a few times a week
A strong communal life within a housing development also results in benefits such as help with child care and the trading of skills and resources.
Through proper design, interactions can be made easier while at the same time giving equal importance to the need for privacy. Community members become sensitive to, and respect, another’s desire for privacy.