Creating place and a sense of community for residents of multi-storey buildings takes dedication but it’s fun!
Placemaking capitalises on a building’s assets and potential, with the intention of creating communities that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.
National FM Operations Manager, Gary Sharma (2nd from left) is a passionate champion of well-being and community for all the buildings that he manages. He delights in creating relationships between culture, people and places to develop and nurture a sense of community and togetherness for residents. Residential design is at the heart of of every community, dictating how we as a society work, live and play. The quality of our communities has a significant impact on our daily lives, including our physical and mental health. Gary believes that as building managers, we are the caretakers of the communities we create; a responsibility that drives our work vision and everyday decision-making.
There are a variety of factors considered when developing community spirit for residents, including environmental impact, stakeholder involvement, connectivity, and safety.
Because of this, there are often a number of ideas and initiatives that don’t make it past the initial planning phase. However, even a simple Christmas BBQ on the rooftop can create a sense of place.
With a bit of blue-sky thinking, let’s consider what would the ideal residential community of the future possibly look like? How can we achieve it? We need someone to drive the process. Your building manager is the perfect choice. At National FM our building managers are all involved in creating place and community goodwill for their residents. How? Well, let’s see.
When creating multi-storey building spaces, shared facilities are at best, interactive, multi-faceted areas mostly used for day-time activities, either active or passive. At their worst, rooftop areas are small grassed areas that are dictated by the landscape and rarely given much consideration. Across the board though, shared facilities like rooftop gardens are considered as day-time amenities, not really fit for use at night.
This doesn’t have to be the case. With the right lighting, rooftop areas can be fun and interactive places at night where residents could come together for meals, music or group exercise. In an ideal community, rooftop solar could be used to generate power, enabling a safe and fun environment at night to maximise the use this valuable resource.
Creating green areas that are not only relaxing spaces but also dog-friendly fosters responsibility and encourages socialisation between neighbours, giving just as many benefits to residents as it does to beloved pets.
Encouraging residents to use building facilities for community activities such as neighbourhood BBQs or friendly games mean that children are able to play more safely outside their apartments.
Like a BBQ!
There are few things that foster a sense of community more than a shared project or asset. The perfect example of this is a community rooftop garden, allowing residents to work together to maintain the garden and share in the benefits of fresh produce, which could be distributed amongst residents.
Extensive research shows community gardens provide numerous health benefits including improved access to food, improved nutrition, increased physical activity and better mental health. Shared rooftop gardens are also conducive to promoting social health and community cohesion.
When hundreds of apartments are being created, there’s inevitably a large amount of waste with discarded material (not general garbage of course). Building managers are often forced to spend time and resources disposing of these materials. It begs the question, is there a better way to reuse those materials?
A more sustainable solution would be to repurpose those materials, either by donating them to a not-for-profit or recycle them for the benefit of the residents.
As technology continues to become such an integrated part of our lives, we need to start factoring it in to the communities we create. While this is already in place with smart home setup, ideally, we could take it one step further and explore how technology can be used to bring residents together.
A great example would be free WIFI available in the building’s surrounding public spaces. This would encourage residents to leave their homes and allow them to work or study in open spaces; activating the shared facilities. It’s also a great tool for kids, allowing them to always be connected to home and get in touch with their parents when they’re out and about in the space.
An app for community events could also be of great value, where residents can get real-time updates of community get-togethers or notifications of local events like a group dog walk around the area on the weekend. This digital extension of the community brings people together and cultivates a sense of connection.
Good relationships don’t happen overnight. They take commitment, compromise, and most of all — effort. There are many people involved in running a successful building asset such as a multi-storey development and their relationships exist and develop over time. Workplace relationships directly affect a worker’s ability and drive to succeed. When strong relationships exist in the workplace, you’re more likely to see prosocial behaviour like collaboration and camaraderie occur. Workers are more likely to feel a stronger sense of loyalty to their company and each other, and perceive more psychological value in their daily work. For residents who interact with building workers almost every day, this means a more pleasant environment and a sense of belonging that translates into a strong community.
One relationship that is critical to the successful management of a large complex is the collaboration between the strata manger and the building manager. If you want a high-functioning workplace, you want a relationship-centric organisation, which means you need great communication between these two important people. National FM building managers are always focused on working effectively with the building’s strata manager. Diversity is lucky to have a great strata management company in Netstrata and their strata manager, the high-achieving Christine Ashfield-Howell. The working relationship between Gary and Christine is a fine example of collaborative success.
National FM is the only facilities management company that can offer a unique service to residents of the buildings that we manage. The service is Haven Black. Through this service residents can be notified of upcoming community events PLUS they can access highly sought-after lifestyle services at their fingertips. Contact National FM to find out more about Haven Black and what it can do to enhance your building asset.
While it’s not always feasible to create the ideal community, as building managers it is always necessary to approach residential and community development with the intention to create something that will go above and beyond simply providing people with an apartment. Fostering a sense of belonging, encouraging positive social interactions between neighbours and maximising liveability are the cornerstones of a successful building development.