Community can also be vertical

Creating a sense of community and how to go about this is a topic that is very important to SCA (NSW) as illustrated through our commitment to research in this area in conjunction with City Futures at the University of NSW and the annual SCA (NSW) industry award dedicated to community.

So when an opinion piece appeared in the Fifth Estate titled “Why we need community in high-rise development” we knew we had to share it with you.

The author, Richard Gibbs from Urbis, starts with the premise that high-rise has a poor reputation in Australia because we are not good at seeing its potential. Cities like Singapore where high-rise living is more normalised are much better at creating some sense of community.

Australia’s sense of community is vertical in the form of the quarter acre block at street level so communal space is much easier to identify and access. Living in high-rise apartments makes it necessary to rethink the communal space and its uses. Gibbs notes that “in Singapore, elderly family members tend communal gardens for the younger generations to enjoy in the evenings and on weekends”, generating this sense of community.

Developers need to be encouraged to see the value in not just building another high-rise apartment but in creating spaces where residents can socialise and build the community themselves. Developers therefore are responsible for the physical space but people are the ones who turn it into a community. 

Gibbs also says that there can be greater value in developments that offer a good lifestyle for buyers and residents.

He says, “Community-centred developments based on engagement and evidence-based decisions tend to leave a more positive imprint on our landscape as people become part of the process and feel in control of their environment. With more buyers looking to live in apartments and townhouses there’s an expectation that community is worth something.”

Certainly SCA (NSW) has a number of stories about strata committees encouraging residents to work together to create a community. Read the most recent of these stories which features Generation W the winner of the 2018 Strata Community Environmental and Engagement Award.

The 2019 SCA (NSW) Strata Community awards are now open with submissions closing 31 May 2019. More details on how to enter your strata scheme are available here.