Programming common areas serving multifamily projects must go beyond meeting traditional uses. They must set the bar higher by offering opportunities to create culture, spark new interactions, and facilitate a building-wide sense of community that extends into the surrounding neighborhood. The next concepts explore ways to strengthen a building’s community at different scales with the context of an existing 12-story building in downtown Los Angeles.
Opportunities exist at the rooftop, fire escapes, and ground floor to establish a culture in a building whose residents prioritize conversation, connection, and creation.
Roof - Work Pods and Urban Farming
Today’s urban multifamily projects are expected to have rooftop common areas with amenities that are practically essential to the financial success of the building and the wellbeing of its users. This concept introduces four ideas that could significantly enhance multifamily roof spaces including biophilia, urban farming, shared experiential amenities, and work pods.
Our collective tendency to relate to natural elements, known as biophilia, is closely tied to our health and happiness. We believe that contemporary multifamily projects should reduce the amount of hardscape roof surfaces, and prioritize the creation of green, park-like settings with trees and vegetation that attracts birds, butterflies, and other pollinators surrounding small gathering areas.
The impacts of the pandemic have greatly increased our desire for self-sustaining food options as more people have taken up baking their own bread or managing a personal garden to incorporate these richer experiences with ingredients into their daily culinary routines. An urban farm element has the potential to create a deeper connection to nature as many people have a desire for locally sourced food, and are interested in managing a small garden of their own to grow herbs or produce. The typical catering kitchen and lounge amenity can be enhanced to become experiential spaces where residents can share in food preparation or host culinary classes.
Modular work pods can also upgrade rooftop working among views and greenery. The pods provide tenants a refreshing alternative focus on work outside of one's unit. These elements acting together create another layer of culture and social connection of residents within the building.
As working from home becomes more prevalent, private workspaces are now a prized residential amenity. Because video conferencing and phone calls are not suited to public areas, fully enclosed work pods enable focused productivity. The operable glass partition provides acoustic privacy with a visual and physical connection to the surrounding rooftop and greater cityscape. Additional open-air workspaces with shade could also provide a refreshing productivity hub. For a residential building composed of micro-units, these private workspaces would be a particularly valuable amenity.
Typical Floor - Shared Porch
Typically designers of high-rise buildings have located common amenity areas at the bottom and/or top floors. Not only does access become inconvenient for some tenants in large buildings, but these spaces can also become overly active and loud when they’re the only social spaces immediately available. Carving small spaces throughout the building and removing existing windows on every third floor, provides convenient access to a partially enclosed, open-air porch space. This space also incorporates greenery through portable planters and hosts a private work pod that all tenants have access to. The prevalence of these spaces also allow opportunities for more frequent interaction with direct neighbors, lending a more closely-knit micro-community within the building.
Ground Floor - Blended Uses
In multifamily buildings, ground floor commercial spaces are susceptible to high turnover and long-term vacancies with little emphasis placed on syncing their uses to the needs of the building’s residents. Residential amenities act as a hub for a building's culture and have the potential to be activated even further beyond their traditional uses by placing some of these amenities on the ground floor to blend with both neighborhood-oriented retail and destination retail. This General Store concept activates the ground floor space by addressing the needs of the building’s residents through retail, grocery, dining, and coworking uses. Dissolving the barriers between these uses allows for a less fragmented residential experience, helps connect the building and its residents to the streetscape, and creates opportunities for commerce at a variety of scales.
Opportunities also exist to create new experiences and interactions in areas once relegated to back of house, or typically common to the street and sidewalk. By relocating the mailroom to the front of house, and adding refrigerated boxes and larger parcel rooms, even the simple act of picking up mail presents a greater chance of engaging with neighbors. Given the increase in online commerce and its associated deliveries, tenants may find themselves in the mailroom engaging with the surrounding ground floor uses multiple times a day. A curated retail component, whether a general store or a zero-waste refill station for self-care products, reduces additional trips for regular tasks.
Continue to our next concept, or download the full report
Reimagining Spaces: Multifamily Design
Amid the upheaval from today's pandemic, we see one clear implication for our industry: space design is entering a whole new era, and there's no going back. Since Early 2020, Omgivning has been exploring the potential of this design evolution creating Reimagining Spaces, a post-pandemic design report reimagining the Workplace, Commercial, and Multifamily spaces.
Download parts one and two of this three-part series
Reimagining Spaces: Urban Reprogramming Commercial Design
Reimagining Spaces: Workplace Design