When thinking about ways to attract renters to an apartment complex, designers and builders probably think about what the inside of the units will look like and what they’ll provide. An equally important area to consider is a community space where people can get outside for some fresh air and gather together. 

So what exactly is an apartment community space, and what can make it stand out? Keep reading for a quick definition and a rundown of different must-haves for your complex that we guarantee your residents will love!

What is an Apartment Community Space?

For some people, a sense of community when they step outside their apartment matters. An apartment complex’s community space can offer this by providing places for people to join together and hang out, whether it’s through communal dining spaces, comfortable outdoor benches, spots for furry friends, playgrounds for kids and teens, or something else. 

These areas and amenities can be sprinkled throughout your complex or centered in one location. For example, you may want to provide tables and benches in different places in your complex but may want to build and house all your playground or dog park equipment in a designated outdoor space. Whatever you do, these outdoor spaces contribute to helping residents find a place to relax or have fun outdoors — alone or in small or larger groups.  

What Your Apartment Complex Should Have

When it comes to your apartment complex’s community space, you should find ways to appeal to a diverse array of prospective residents. That means taking a hard look at the amenities you want to offer. From bike racks to play areas for the kids, here’s a quick list of things your apartment complex’s space should definitely have. 

Benches, Tables, Trashcans, and Bike Racks

The most common amenities in any outdoor space include benches, tables, trash cans, and bike racks. That’s because people need somewhere to sit and gather comfortably, whether it’s to rest, chat with family and friends, or keep a close eye on their children playing in the grass or playground area. If they’re hanging out for a while, they may be drinks and snacks, so you should provide a trash can or recycling bin. No one wants a messy community space! 

When you think about these amenities, you may think of plain wood or concrete, but there are a lot of unique ways to dress them up, including: 

  • Metal or classic garden benches
  • Benches that curve along a walkway or wrap around a tree
  • Environmentally friendly benches, tables, or trash cans made from recycled materials 
  • Architectural elements in tables, benches,  and trash cans 
  • Different patterns or color options 
  • Completely matching sets of tables, chairs, benches, or trash receptacles 
  • Unique custom designs 

Another essential amenity that often goes hand in hand with outdoor seating areas are bike racks. Biking is an increasingly popular way for people to exercise and meet up with friends, especially those living in community areas, so it makes sense to include them in these areas! Even better - your bike rack can be as sleek as your benches or tables or be built to match the styling so you can create a cohesive design. 

Commercial Shade Structures & Gazebos

A community space should be safe and comfortable so everyone can enjoy being outdoors. Shaded shelters and structures can protect everyone from UV rays, painful sunburns, and unexpected weather while increasing the time and fun spent outside. From large covered gazebos to custom-designed trellises, you can get creative with your shading in your apartment’s community space without sacrificing style or quality. Here is some additional information on specific examples of these commercial structures:

  • Steel gazebos offer shade while adding a beautiful spot outside for people to relax, socialize, and gather with family regardless of the weather.
  • Covered pavilions or shelters can add value and protect people from the elements by creating a larger space for people to gather, eat, chat, relax, or socialize. 
  • Classic sun shade structures like canopies, hips, sails, and cantilever shades are durable, have a unique style, and help create an area that is cooler than the surrounding areas as well as protect people from rain, dust, or even snow! 
  • Fabric shades, another classic structure, are a more affordable option to protect your community from the sun without sacrificing aesthetics. 

Adding sheltered areas like these lets people enjoy your apartment’s community space longer because they have a place to escape the heat or weather, cool down, and regroup. 

Inclusive and Accessible Playground

Most apartment complexes house many families, so one of the most significant amenities or "must-haves'' you can offer is an outdoor play area or playground. If you make it inclusive, accessible, and safe, everyone, regardless of age or ability, can have fun in the space together, multiplying the sense of community your complex creates. Even one or two inclusive pieces of equipment, such as the GameTime Expression Swing or Rockin' Robin, can be the deciding factor in whether someone wants to hang out in your community space or not. 

When thinking about what type of playground equipment to add to your apartment's community space, keep The Me2®: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design®, developed by PlayCore with Utah State University Center for Persons With Disabilities, in mind: 

  • Be fair and promote equitable use to people with diverse abilities.
  • Be included and accommodate everyone's right to play. 
  • Be smart and use a design that's easy to understand and use. 
  • Be independent and offer equipment that lets individuals explore and interact in sensory-rich play as independently as possible.
  • Be safe and ensure you are meeting the highest safety standards.
  • Be active and make sure everyone, whether they have a physical or another type of disability, can use the play environment efficiently with a low effort. 
  • Be comfortable and offer a space and size that is comfortable for individuals with a diverse set of needs. 

At MRC, our expert team has helped communities design play and recreation spaces that allow and assist people of all abilities and ages in having fun and encouraging them to get out there and explore. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Inclusive Playgrounds for more information. 

Dog Park

Approximately 48 million American households own a dog, meaning adding a spot for your residents’ furry friends to exercise and socialize is critical to your community space. Dog parks not only provide a place for your pets to run around but the opportunity for them to play with other dogs and for you to meet and interact with other dog owners. It’s a win-win-win for your community space. 

Here are a few things to consider when adding a dog park to your space: 

  • Always include sage enclosures so pets can roam and run around in a safe place. 
  • Create separate spaces for large and small dogs. 
  • Install comfortable ground cover.
  • Add agility equipment and challenges, like ramps, hoops, tunnels, and hurdles, to increase the fun and exercise. 
  • Add some of the amenities previously detailed for the pet owners, like trash bins, benches, and shade structures. 
  • Include an entrance gate or sign, so residents know where to go. 

Just keep in mind that, like people, dogs have different abilities, skill sets, and confidence levels, so be sure to include a mix of equipment and structures if you’re choosing to add a dog park to your community space.  

How To Customize Your Apartment's Community Space

All of these amenities are great, but there’s a way you can kick it up a notch and take your community space to the next level — by completely customizing it and making it your own! With custom structures and amenities, you can elevate the look of your complex’s space and make your wildest site furnishing dreams come true. 

And fortunately for you, you can do it in-house with MRC and StudioMRC. We employ designers with one goal: Making your unique vision a reality. We work closely with architects, designers, and manufacturers to successfully construct and install custom community pieces ranging from signs, tables, benches, bike racks, gazebos, and more. If you’re ready to get all the “must-haves” for your complex’s community space and make them unique to your space, drop our team a line today.

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