For all the talk about technology and how it risks making our lives lonelier, there are also many initiatives that focus on measures and policies susceptible to creating a more connected and friendly community life.

Psychologists and social scientists contend that three conditions are necessary to form close bonds and real friendships: (1) proximity, (2) repeated unplanned interactions, and (3) environments that encourage people to trust each other and to confide in each other.

With this in mind, the current trend in real estate and community design is to counter the many projects that “gate” a homogeneous community—such as retirees—behind closed doors by redesigning the physical space in a way that favors interactivity. Gated communities tend to exacerbate the growing generational and social divide that besets many rich countries and, therefore, fail to improve wellbeing at the societal level.

By contrast, mixing communities promotes sociability and instills a sense of “new life” for elderly people. Multigenerational home-sharing or co-locating care homes with nurseries and schools is becoming an instrument of choice for creating a more connected and friendly community life.

It’s a trend to watch…

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