Maintaining a sense of community in high-density neighborhoods

This essay considers whether high residential density affects residents’ sense of neighborhood community.  The answer to this question is important because it helps inform the larger issue of what effect the densifying of cities may have on quality of life for urban inhabitants.  I provide critical considerations of compact city objectives, measures of density, concepts of community and sense of community, and the concept of physical determinism.  Although there is a paucity of research listed in academic literature on the topic, I argue that indirect evidence suggests that high-density environments are probably detrimental to sense of community, and that the effects of these environments may be ameliorated with the provision of hard infrastructure, such as increased semi-public space that is conducive to informal interaction, and with soft infrastructure, such as neighborhood events and neighborhood associations.  I end the essay with a consideration of what urban planners might do to maintain a sense of community in the compact city.

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