Know thy neighbour

It is difficult to foster a meaningful sense of community in high rise developments – in reality, dense vertical living can be socially isolating.

Even if you live in a building with scores of other people, the likelihood of you getting to know any of them is vastly diminished if the architecture encourages you to stay in your own apartment. Towers often lack common spaces that give people a reason to bump into each other or informally mingle - there's only so much interaction that can happen as people move directly from a foyer into a lift and then straight into their apartment.

Proposed mixed use development, Antwerp 
As densities are on the increase in our major cities, wouldn’t it be nice to know that design is legitimately taking into consideration the fostering of a greater degree of social interaction among its inhabitants. That a sense of community will not be lost in translation as housing moves ever skywards. Well one such Belgian architecture firm, C.F. Møller Architects in collaboration with Brut Architecture & Urban Design, have put this theory into practice in a high rise development in Antwerp. Social interaction has formed the underlying mantra of this new mixed use development. 

C.F. Møller & Brut’s 24-story building is grouped into ‘mini-communities’ – they have clustered similar apartment types together, such as family or student housing, opening up into balcony spaces and winter gardens. Residents share an inner courtyard, a roof terrace and a triple height indoor garden located on the upper most floors of the building. There’s also an onsite bike repair facility – so no more excuses for not exercising! And a communal dining area if you don't want to eat alone in your apartment. See you at dinner! 

It sounds like a winning blueprint to me.

Residents share an inner courtyardSource: Fast Code/Slicker City


‘Happy City: Transforming our lives through urban design’, by Charles Montgomery, 2013

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