The Vertical Village

When was the last time you talked to your neighbour? In a bustling city – the prospect of connecting with others can be daunting. But what if it doesn’t have to be? 

Tight-knit communities, where residents are comfortable enough to ask for a cup of sugar are hard to find in rental and strata buildings. We want that to change. At Rize, we are constantly looking for ways to give residents the best urban living experience possible.

We think apartment and strata buildings can become vertical villages by designing and building integrated pathways for social connections. Whether it is through integrated residential services, thoughtful building programming or shared amenity space, we hope to create spaces that people are proud to call their home, and where a sense of community is just as important as independent living. 

In this Thinking piece, we explore two concepts for social and building programming that will guide us towards building spaces for people to connect and engage. 

Pausing the Grind 

While the daily grind has shifted to include more flexibility, some cultures around the world have always incorporated a mid-day pause in the work day, with most of these cultural habits centred around food and genuine conversation.

Fika or “Coffee with Friends,” is a Swedish tradition of taking time in the day to meet with friends or colleagues to enjoy coffee and snacks. It’s a daily reset for Swedes, an excuse to get out of the house or office and reconnect with those around us. In Mexico, lunch is more of a ritual than any other meal. At 2 pm, la comida begins, and this hearty meal becomes the centre of the workday. There is also the concept of merienda – from Spain to the Philippines to Brazil – where a light meal is meant to break up the afternoon. Although slightly different to Fika, the core intention of social connection remains the same.

Communal eating at Mercado Roma (Mexico City). Courtesy of Mercado Roma. Communal eating at Mercado Roma (Mexico City). Courtesy of Mercado Roma.
Communal eating at Mercado Roma (Mexico City). Courtesy of Mercado Roma. Communal eating at Mercado Roma (Mexico City). Courtesy of Mercado Roma.

These food-centred afternoon breaks have inspired us to rethink how we can incorporate communal dining experiences into social programming for our residential and commercial buildings. Food is integral to so many cultures but often, in our daily grind, we end up eating off the side of our desks. 

Imagine if your building had access to a food hall where you can share a light meal with residents. What about having a communal dinner once a week? Building community is an important aspect of urban planning and it’s time developers make it a concrete part of planning residential and commercial spaces too. 

A Place for Sharing

Social programming must be thoughtfully integrated. Monotonous amenity spaces often go unused but we have an opportunity to design common areas that make connecting and sharing experiences easier for residents. Community centres are hubs for connectivity but are infrequently programmed into residential buildings. What if there was a way to incorporate this into a new project?

We found inspiration in the Xiaoshi Village Community Cultural Centre, nestled in the heart of a rainy, mountainous town in the Sichuan Province. Conceptualized out of a need for an indoor gathering hub that could hold all necessary activities the village required, it has everything ranging from a daycare centre to a night school and everything in between. It has become a hub for the entire community, where everyone feels welcome and at home.

Courtesy of Studio Dali Architects.
Courtesy of Studio Dali Architects. Courtesy of Studio Dali Architects.

Building amenities have the potential to mitigate loneliness if we design and develop for connected living. From the built environment itself to social programming – creating spaces akin to community centres can bring residents together and act as places of engagement and activation, making for one less lonely resident.

A New Vision for the Vertical Village

In our next Thinking piece, we dive into how Rize is exploring the ideas of social programming and activated building amenity spaces in residential and commercial buildings. From our master plan community, The Passages in Surrey, our next rental tower on King George Boulevard in Surrey, to The Grid, a commercial building on False Creek Flats – we are moving forward and expanding how we can build for connected communities.