Are pocket neighborhoods the answer to creating detached housing units that are more vibrant? In "Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World," author and architect Ross Chapin explains how pocket neighborhoods, which are groups of homes clustered around a shared outdoor space, create a sense of place within a city.
For those seeking a housing option with a small town feel in a larger city, living in a pocket neighborhood may be for you. Pocket neighborhoods are typically four to sixteen households built to foster “neighborly” relationships. They are a neighborhood within a neighborhood. The key design feature of these neighborhoods is the shared outdoor space. Chapin describes it as the space between the public and private realms that fosters casual encounters amongst neighbors. Examples include garden courts, joined backyards, or reclaimed alleys.
Chapin uses many of his own built projects in the book. The design of the Danielson Grove neighborhood in Kirkland, Washington (just east of Seattle) follows the pocket neighborhood principles outlined previously. It is a community of 16 three-bedroom homes and one and two-bedroom cottages organized around a shared garden courtyard. With the case of the Danielson Grove neighborhood, the City of Kirkland is using this project as part of the Innovative Housing Demonstration Program to establish new methods to increase the housing supply.
Architect Ross Chapin’s new book uses an illustrative approach to describe the pattern of development of pocket neighborhoods that is suited for both the beginner and the novice. For those unfamiliar with this house design concept, Chapin discovers the settlement pattern of pocket neighborhoods through its origin to present day. And if you are already an advocate of pocket neighborhoods, the book offers several case studies with design keys on topics such as what makes a good porch, or what makes co-housing work.
Do you know of any examples of pocket neighborhoods in your community? If so, where are they and what benefits do they offer? Have you ever considered living in a pocket neighborhood? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
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Credits: Creative Commons images courtesy of FWStudio and Ross Chapin Architects. Updated December 7, 2017.
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