Garden Spot Communities – Sycamore Springs
Architecture firm: SFCS Architects
Owner: Garden Spot Communities
Location: New Holland, Pennsylvania
Category: Special Recognition
Sycamore Springs is a recent expansion to the Garden Spot Village community located in New Holland, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia. Inspired by cohousing and pocket neighborhood models, the first phase of the expansion includes 27 detached homes, two village greens, and two community buildings that encourage a true sense of community and foster deep relationships among residents.
"This cottage-style detached ‘single-family home’ project promotes and provides many wonderful positive programs for the aging demographic, such as socialization, exercise, a sense of community, as well as belonging and independence."- Jury Comment
The team’s interweaving of two alternative development models strongly influenced the project’s final design. A combination of both models’ overarching themes, with some refinements, resulted in a design that is appropriate for seniors but still appealing to a slightly younger demographic than would normally choose to live at Garden Spot Village. The team’s approach is reminiscent of small, walkable communities in which neighbors are well acquainted and eagerly engaged in the natural flow of life in a community.
All of the homes are clustered in small neighborhoods and organized around the common village green. The decision to do so was based on research that has shown that groups of 12 to 15 homes are the optimal setting to develop meaningful social structure. Each home includes “livable” front porches, and the living, kitchen, and dining areas all face the green. They also feature kitchens with solid wood cabinets and granite countertops, ample storage, and one- or two-car garages.
“This cottage-style detached ‘single-family home’ project promotes and provides many wonderful positive programs for the aging demographic, such as socialization, exercise, a sense of community, as well as belonging and independence,” said the jury.
The homes are connected to the community buildings, which serve as venues for neighborhood events, through a series of walking paths and sidewalks. Residents also collect their mail at the common buildings, and many have remarked that doing so can take more than an hour as they engage in impromptu conversations or spontaneous gatherings along the way.
A palpable sense of community developed shortly after the project’s completion, exceeding all expectations. The patios on the village greens regularly accommodate dinner events and gatherings around fire pits. Spontaneous “front porch parties” are regular occurrences. Additionally, vegetable gardens and garages, where some residents restore classic cars, have emerged as unexpected social hubs.
The success of the first phase of this expansion has spurred the planning and development of Sycamore Springs West. When complete, the second phase will deliver an additional 50 homes.