Draw people out of the private realms of homes and cars. In order for an interaction to occur, people need to see each other and be in close enough proximity to interact, but they also need a reason to be out of their homes in the first place, and a reason to interact with others. This is spatially achieved by:
Providing Common Areas
Creating Clear Boundaries
Interactions must be repeated to lead to connections. Recognizability is critical for forming social ties and is the weak link in much of America. Most common areas serve populations far too large to allow for brief, repeated, unintentional meetings that are needed to build lasting social ties. Recognizability is supported with:
Provide Conversation Zones that invite people to linger should they choose to have a conversation. Conversation Zones have:
Physical Characteristics: comfortable seating in small groups with 8' person-to-person proximity and near larger activity.
Attentional Characteristics: Free from unpleasant noise, smells, distractions, and contains restorative features.
Each behavior goal is supported by several key spatial factors
Common Areas should be semi-public; intended for use by residents but not the general public. Restricting use to residents creates a smaller group which makes people more likely to engage, feel safer, and provides a shared connection by knowing they are neighbors. (Photo: Clubhouse at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
Include Triangulation in common areas. Triangulation is anything that gives people a reason to be in the space. In order to promote public interaction, common areas should contain amenities people don't have in their private residences such as a pool, splashpad, or play structure. (Image: Rendering of proposed improvements at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
Common Areas should place people within close public distance (12-25 feet) of each other in order to effectively promote interaction. Even if people don't speak, when they see each other at this distance they have a minimal interaction, and are more likely to interact again later. Ridgecrest pool area places people within Close Public Distance. (Photo: Pool at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
Common areas should be sized so they are human scale, and so they are not generally overused or underused. This lawn at Ridgecrest is well sized for a spontaneous play date with a few residents. (Photo: Lawn at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
Common areas that support public interaction are along the route that people take to get to their homes, and should be close to the residences they serve, ideally adjacent to, but can as far as 600 feet. This enables people to use the common area without going out of their way so people don't have to intentionally plan to meet. This Ridgecrest courtyard is adjacent to just a few residences. (Photo: Courtyard at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
Pedestrians are prioritized when communities are located in areas that have a high degree of walkability to the surrounding neighborhood. This can be easily identified by entering the street address into www.walkscore.com. (image source: www.walkscore.com)
Mandatory routes should be pedestrian paths so people can interact when they pass each other. Paths should also link to common areas, and be between 3 and 6 feet wide, (between the far phase of personal space and close social distance) which makes people most comfortable and likely to acknowledge each other. Ridgecrest apartments are almost all accessed by pedestrian paths. (Photo: Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
Central driveways within a community should contain traffic calming measures such as speed bumps, right angle turns, stop signs, etc., to reduce the speed of vehicles on the property. (Photo: Speed bump at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, Ca)
Parking should be located off-site or separate from residences to require residents to walk to dwellings and to allow space within the property to be used for common areas instead of parking. (Photo: Parking at Ridgecrest Apartments, Lake Forest, CA)
The Social Score Inventory simplifies the Key Factors into a single numerical score.