Yesterday’s neighborhood of homes, fences and dividers is tomorrow’s connected, tech-enabled neighborhood.

Both have inherent benefits–and built-in disadvantages. Decades ago, home design helped create relationships between neighbors, spurred lifetime friendships door-to-door. Today, home design has evolved into a much more private experience, isolating owners from each other and creating a higher level of depression and isolation than ever before.

The consequences of an isolated lifestyle can have huge negative impacts on a population. Here, in the United States, life expectancy is declining for the first time ever and suicide rates are climbing. Research from the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt concept home dives into the need for more intentional communities to relieve loneliness, when the AARP reports that 40% of American adults suffer from loneliness.

Social interactions can lower health risks, and the design of the built environment is a place to start to create spontaneous social engagements between neighbors. The right community design can not only be profitable for builders and the housing residents from a financial perspective, but can lead to richer lives, more productive and connected communities.

As technologies evolve, designers and developers will have to leverage them for a positive impact, not in a way that might replace real life social connections.

Ross Chapin 

Ross Chapin Architects 

Langley, Wash.
Ross Chapin Architects Ross Chapin Ross Chapin Architects Langley, Wash.

In this entertaining and informative HIVE RE:think podcast, host Philip Beere speaks with Ross Chapin, architect and long-time advocate for sensibly sized houses and vibrant neighborhoods. Chapin leads an architectural and planning firm focused on custom residential design and pocket neighborhood planning.

Chapin has been a development partner on six pocket neighborhood projects, and has designed dozens neighborhoods across the country for other developers, winning design awards such as the American Institute of Architects Housing Awards. His concepts have been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Metropolitan Home, This Old House, and BUILDER. He also authored the book Pocket Neighborhoods that offers real-world case studies for stronger community design.

Listen to this podcast to understand the changing dynamics and demands of tomorrow’s healthy community design.

Episode 2: Tomorrow's Healthy Connected Community Means More Unplugging, Not Plugging In, featuring Ross Chapin, is also available on SoundCloud and on iTunes.