The greatest drawback of working at home is isolation. Conversely, interaction in a convivial setting leads to community. Any designer of live/work space who doesn’t understand and make use of this insight is missing a tremendous opportunity.

The nature of the common spaces along the “entry path” of a multi-unit project can make the difference between an alienating structure and a fully functioning community. The period between the moment one enters the complex and the time one enters one’s unit is the time when the greatest opportunities for interaction arise.

In a well designed multifamily or live-work project, residents cross paths as they come and go, and opportunities to socialize arise naturally. The architect’s challenge is to shape common spaces along the entry path that encourage casual interaction: places where it is comfortable to greet a neighbor, pause to chat or simply move on. Additionally, designing the common spaces so that  the units’ entries open onto them further increases the chances of casual meetings, which inevitably lead to a sense of community.

Read a related interview with Thomas Dolan in which he discusses creating successful live/work communities