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Using Social Infrastructure to Improve Community Well-Being

Social infrastructure consists of facilities, spaces, services, and networks that support a community’s quality of life and well-being. A recent article published in Urban Land Magazine suggested that social spaces (like parks, entertainment centers and favorite restaurants) can transform an environment from a collection of buildings to a place that holds meaning for the community.

The article also explained that social infrastructure can build resilience to improve a community’s well-being.  

The article suggested three strategies to help develop social infrastructure:

#1 – Make New Space

The article explained that “the best social infrastructure happens through intentional action, design and planning.” To that end, the space included in a design-build should be a gathering point. Examples include a roof terrace, dedicating part of a retail space to a locally owned café or integrating a pop-up health clinic for community members in a building’s lobby.

#2 – Use the Spaces In Between

The article indicated that spaces in between buildings are often ignored when it comes to social interactions. “If well-designed and maintained, the areas around and between the main programs of a development are where people cross paths, bump into each other, have impromptu conversations and deepen relationships,” the article explained. Suggestions for improving the in-between spaces included improving pedestrian walkways, implementing quality streetscapes and refining seating areas.

#3 – Mix Uses

While mixed-use isn’t anything new, the article pointed out that “developments that serve multiple functions can attract more types of users and meet a variety of needs.” This helps ensure space activation while encouraging social interaction. One example provided was the office developer that includes entertainment spaces to “ensure the property does not empty out after typical work hours, but instead hosts people enjoying leisure time together.”

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