28 Jun Pocket Neighborhoods: Redeveloping How We Create Community

There is a growing sense of disconnectedness in the world. Several factors go into this: perhaps our family and friends live far away, maybe our neighborhoods lack the intentional design for cultivating connection, or it might be that we are so engaged via devices that we wrestle with being truly socially engaged in our physical community. With many of us desiring this return to experiencing life with our neighbors, the concept of pocket neighborhoods may provide the solution.

Pocket neighborhoods are a powerful design that groups a few small-footprint homes together around a shared common area. The neighborhood is intentionally minimal. This use of space engineers a closeness that presents neighbors with organic opportunities to interact and is perfect for those desiring a stronger sense of community. From this more engaging environment can come caring neighbors who know you, a safer neighborhood, and a healthier lifestyle for all. Different life stages can receive their own benefit as well. Older neighbors are assured opportunities to connect and be connected with, while young families know that their children are not far from playmates or mindful adults to help keep watch.

This model is incredibly useful for areas desiring more dense development without urban or suburban sprawl. To maximize the use of space and keep homes from needing to be too large, pocket neighborhoods are often built with a shared commons area or house for hosting larger amounts of guests. Some neighborhoods even offer shared cars in order to reduce families’ needs for 2nd or 3rd cards. While proximity and space are key concepts of the pocket neighborhood, privacy is still important in the composition of housing floorplans and arrangement. Each home typically receives a designated garden or fence to provide private space, windows are carefully placed, and some homes have attached garages with entrances at the rear of the home. Many neighborhoods also budget for a community facilitator; someone whose role is to help mitigate possible neighborhood tensions, organize events, and vet potential residents.

The advantages to the pocket neighborhood are many. With growing global populace decreasing available space, as well as increased focus on independence and privacy leading to what some refer to as “an epidemic of loneliness”, the pocket neighborhood offers some small-scale yet meaningful solutions to these issues. Do you live in or near a pocket neighborhood? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the concept. Feel free to let us know on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Bruce Freides