What is a Pocket Neighborhood?

All Metro Team September 29, 2016

What is a Pocket Neighborhood?Have you ever heard of a pocket neighborhood? The term was first coined in 1995 by the architect Ross Chapin and refers to a small group of homes that face each other and share a common space. It promotes the idea of building community and establishing ties to your neighbors in a way that traditional neighborhoods do not.

How is a pocket neighborhood different than a traditional neighborhood?

Pocket neighborhoods are quite a bit different than the traditional planned communities we’ve become accustomed to in the past few decades. Instead of encompassing a large area with perhaps dozens of home, a pocket neighborhood is like a smaller neighborhood within that space. It generally includes just a handful of houses around a shared space such as a garden, a pedestrian walkway or a reclaimed alley.

How does a pocket neighborhood promote community?

In most traditional neighborhoods, a sense of privacy is maintained from house to house. Not so in a pocket neighborhood. Since everyone has a stake in the shared space, a greater sense of community is inspired. You’re more likely to know who lives in each of the homes in your small area, and that sense of being in it together gives children more freedom to play. Neighbors keep an eye on each other, and it’s more noticeable when strangers are in the area.

Why is the shared space so important?

An essential component of a pocket neighborhood is the shared common space. Often, this is a garden or green space, and all of the homes are tasked with its upkeep. In more urban areas, the shared space could be a pedestrian walkway or even an alley, but the concept remains the same – all the residents are invested in the upkeep of the shared space. The space has clearly-defined boundaries that allows neighbors the opportunity to get to know one another, and makes for a safe environment for kids to play.

How are pocket neighborhoods designed?

These types of neighborhoods are expressly designed to promote interaction. Each neighborhood contains a limited number of homes, and each faces the common area, instead of away from it. Homes are generally on the smaller side, although pocket neighborhoods still work well in affluent neighborhoods with larger homes. The homes themselves are designed to maintain privacy, but the layout of the neighborhood itself is intended to inspire people to get out and interact with one another.

Is a pocket neighborhood right for you?

Pocket neighborhoods are great for people who are retired, families with children, singles who don’t want to feel isolated and anyone who desires to feel part of a community. If privacy is your main concern, a pocket neighborhood may not be the best choice for you. But if you want to feel more connected in an increasingly disconnected world, a pocket neighborhood is an excellent choice.

Where can I learn more about pocket neighborhoods?

The website Pocket Neighborhoods has great information about what a pocket neighborhood is and how it benefits our communities. Ross Chapin’s book Pocket Neighborhoods is also a great resource. Of course, you can also contact a trusted real estate agent to talk to about the opportunities for pocket neighborhood living in your own community.

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