Vertical Community Building
Residents of The Lauren—our new purpose-built rental tower project in Vancouver’s West End—found something a little different in their lobby last week: a volunteer Community Concierge waiting to welcome them, connect them with other residents, and introduce them to the neighbourhood.
“Ask Lauren”, Vancouver’s First Community Concierge, is a pilot project by the Apartment Innovators, (a group of students at CityStudio), and is developed in partnership with Westbank, the City of Vancouver’s Engaged City Task Force, and the Gordon Neighbourhood House. It aims to create “vertical communities” in high-rise buildings and, ultimately, foster a more connected city. While Vancouver is often cited as one of the world’s most livable cities, residents point to a growing sense of social isolation as their biggest concern about city life.
“I’ve lived in the same building for over three years now and only know the name of my roommate” said project co-creator Brendan Bailey. “I think that everybody should have the opportunity to be social within their apartment buildings and this is a great way to do that.”
The successful week-long “Ask Lauren” experiment wrapped up on November 23, with 96% of participants who filled out a survey saying they would like it to continue and 65% saying the pilot project had introduced them to someone new in the building.
CityStudio—a hub and field school that connects City staff, university students, and community members to promote urban sustainability through innovative projects—is aiming to expand the idea under the City’s Community Amenity Contribution (CAC) program. Through CAC’s, developers are required to invest in local communities, and project founders want to direct this contribution towards providing residents with a social anchor—someone dedicated to building community through face-to-face connections.
[Top Image: CityStudio "Ask Lauren" team at the Lauren]