The power of architecture in creating social interaction, an anecdote

In a big city, one does not always get to know one’s neighbours. Our neighbourhoods are dense, our neighbours are busy and lest we run into each other in front of our apartments, we sometimes do not even know who our neighbours are or when they move.

While this is more an issue of renters and subletters, a category that I find myself in and will for years to come, this lack of connection with my neighbours changed in 2011 when I moved into one of the most convivially designed apartment buildings.

The building had a central entrance that all tenants of the four apartments used. At the top of the first set of stairs was an atrium that all four apartments gave onto, two on the first floor and two on the second floor, where I lived. This meant that almost every day I saw my neighbours. I saw them in the morning as I left and in the evening when I got home. We would keep our doors open on the atrium, so that music, conversations and sounds passed through our shared space. We would sit in the atrium, have drinks, chat. We grew to know each other.  While sometimes I wanted to slip in and out of my apartment unnoticed, I was thankful to have formed a relationship with my neighbours. And all of this thanks to the design of my apartment building (and the willingness, of course, of my neighbours).

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