We all need a place to call home. The potential consequences of not having that place of home are great. In most cases, home is a place we go to restore ourselves. It is a place we are welcome and are able to completely be ourselves. We are able to kick off our shoes and forget about all the worries of the world. Most of the essential elements we need to achieve our highest potential of well-being can be met in our living environments. Unfortunately, some living situations do now encompass all of these restorative and stress reducing elements. I would like to take a moment to talk about things to consider when we design multi-family housing. These considerations are based on our personal and social needs and how we can achieve the highest potential in our designs for multi-family housing.
In the above photo we see an image of a typical newer apartment complex. While this complex seems nice and well kept it is lacking many of the essential needs for an ideal multi-family housing development such as places to interact and a connection to nature. Some of the main elements we need in our housing environments are: a connection to nature, private and public spaces, sense of ownership, areas to enhance sense of community and safety. While some apartment complexes might be successful with the implementation of only a few of these elements, the most ideal living situations incorporate all of them.
In the above image we see a direct connection between nature and the built environment. Studies suggest that we find many qualities of restoration in nature and therefore should have a direct connection to it.
Most apartment complexes fail at this opportunity by making the entrance of the building look like the image below.
This type of setting not only limits connection to nature but it also creates this sort of “no man’s” zone in the apartment complex. This zone acts as a walk way but it travels right next to the individual dwellings. This layout is a bit unsettling because it places a very public zone directly, literally withing inches, of a very private and personal zone.
The above photo shows a great example of implementing connection to nature into the walk way. Furthermore, it shows how the entrances to the individual dwellings are slightly pulled away from the path to define the public verses private zone. Which apartment complex feels more like home to you?
We also have different needs for the type of space that is incorporated into multi-family housing projects. We tend to need private and personal spaces within our public spaces. A successful consideration for a range of public and private spaces will allow us to satisfy our individual needs regardless of the type of spatial zone needed.
We also have a need to define our territory in order to strength our sense of ownership. Statistically we have seen that when there is a sense of ownership there tends to be more effort put into keeping a space well-maintained. With this heightened sense of pride and upkeep it makes the area a more desirable place to be. Some of the ways we do this is through personalization of our spaces. We need areas of opportunity to personalize our spaces built into our multi-family developments. Some of these can be a patio. In these areas we have the opportunity to personalize our space and also have a connection to nature directly next to our homes.
We also have a need to be social. It is ideal to know our neighbors. If our environment is conducive to building these acquaintances we have a larger social network. Knowledge of your neighbors can also instill a higher network of safety in the area. If you know your neighbors not only do you have someone to go to in a time of need, but you are also able to look out for their safety in return. Multi-family housing environments need to provide opportunities where we can have casual social interaction with our neighbors. The most successful complexes implement these opportunities throughout the building.
Truly,One of our most basic needs is housing. We have the potential to satisfy are psychological and social needs with the successful design of elements in these spaces. We need opportunities to not only be socially connected but also more private areas were we can personally connect with ourselves and get restored. The need for housing is on the rise and one way to satisfy this is through multi-family housing units. If we are going to design them anyway, we need to design them in order to enhance our needs and well-being.