In the last ten years, a new idea in community and urban planning has been evolving across the country. This idea, called a “Pocket Neighborhood,” is a principle of New Urbanist design and a concept developed by Ross Chapin, an award-winning architect in Langley, Washington.
On his blog, Pocket Neighborhoods, Ross tells us that, “pocket neighborhoods can take the form of clustered homes around a garden in a variety of configurations in small towns or suburban settings. In urban settings, pocket neighborhoods are likely to be attached or stacked apartments opening onto a shared courtyard.”
Pocket neighborhoods are springing up all over the world and if you’ve ever stayed in the Beach Camp, the Alder Cottages, or in one of the cottages surrounding Crescent Park, you’ve experienced a Pocket Neighborhood! Seabrook’s Town Planner, Laurence Qamar, is a strong proponent of pocket neighborhoods and believes that this “increment of urbanism […] merits close attention,” according to the New Urban Network article, Good developments come in small packages.
Homes in pocket neighborhoods are often somewhat smaller and closer together than homes in a typical suburban neighborhood. Interestingly however, the balance between public and private space makes these neighborhoods comfortable and quite private, yet easily allows the residents to develop relationships with the people living around them.
The details are what make these neighborhoods so special. In addition to the green space around which the homes are centered, Qamar worked with the Seabrook team to create layers of personal space between the common areas and the front door of the cottages here. Each layer provides privacy without eliminating the opportunity for eye contact and encouraging conversation. Examples of these layers employed at Seabrook include: a border of perennial plantings at the edge of the sidewalk, a low picket fence, a covered porch, and even the low ‘perchable’ railings that exist on front porches.
We invite you to experience the balance of public and private firsthand! On your next trip to the beach, look out for pocket neighborhoods at Seabrook and along the Washington coast. You’ll be surprised with what you’ll find.