Social Architecture

One of the aspects of A Pattern Language that is so important is the relationality inherent in it. The house relates to the porch which relates to the street.

Bob Theis is an architect who designs in this tradition. In this interview with First Earth, Bob TroyGardensAerialsuggests, for example, that if you want to encourage people to converse together, you have to get them to commit to a conversation by degrees. First, give them columns to lean on, then maybe a wall they can hop up onto and be at eye-level with the person they are talking to. Then, perhaps the second person will also hop up and you are into a sit-down conversation.

In our co-housing community, the physical structure of housing oriented around two courtyards (lower right-hand side in photo; community gardens are lower left, prairie upper left, CSA farm upper right) creates safety because we can see each other’s homes and lots of opportunities to bump into each other for a quick “hello” that often extends into longer conversations or sometimes a spontaneous dinner. For more, see Top 5 lessons learned living in a village: A psychologist’s view and Reflections on my first summer at Troy Gardens.

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