We live in a community in Beijing with four buildings. It’s a “gated community”, but since almost all apartment buildings in Beijing are groups of buildings with gates, it doesn’t have the same connotation as a “gated community” in the US.
Each building has seven entrances and twelve floors, and each entrance has two apartments on each floor, except for the first and seventh entrances, which only have one apartment on the 10th through 12th floors. Assuming my math is right, that means there are 4*7*2*12-24=648 apartments in our community.
We’ve lived there for almost 15 years, and I think I probably know and have had conversations with people who live in about 20-30 of those apartments, even though I don’t know most of their names. I have visited 5 or 6 apartments other than our own over the years, depending on how I count.
We have a WeChat group for apartment owners, but the topics are essentially limited to complaining about parking, dogs, and the housing management company.
I don’t know why I don’t know more people or have more deeper relationships with people who live in our community (I am grateful for the relationships that I do have!). Part of it might be my personality, part of it might be cultural norms, and part of is might be the design of our community and neighborhood.
I started thinking about this after watching this video that Fred Wilson shared. I don’t know if I want to live in a city for the rest of my life, but wherever I live I want to be intentional about choosing an area with a design that encourages a vibrant community.