Photo by Aiste Manfredini

Photo by Aiste Manfredini

Inglenook, a Carmel pocket neighborhood, enhances your senses, brings back old childhood memories, and makes you feel like you belong. Earlier this summer, Ross Chapin, an architect from Seattle, visited Inglenook for the first time to see his work of art come to life.

His pocket neighborhood designs consist of clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around a shared open space – a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley – all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship.

“This is a shared room, it’s a shared commons with eight other households,” said Chapin.

Each pocket home at Inglenook, located in Carmel, is not only authentic and soulful on the inside, but simple on the outside. These homes have settings where nearby neighbors can easily get to know one another, while also maintaining privacy.

Instead of a street separating the $225,000-to-$400,000 homes that face one another, a green landscaped courtyard divides. Neighbors and visitors can walk to the front door of each home through a common walkway.

Inglenook is also a haven for a cautious parent. “In a place like this there’s no need to freak out. Because they’ve got friends that they can play with, shirttail uncles and aunties, it’s safe. Stranger danger, car danger ­– doesn’t exist,” said Chapin.

Inglenook residents can take some time out of their busy lives to chat, laugh and dine out on their porches together, while overlooking that gentle glow over the horizon late in the evening. They all take part in their neighborhood’s care and oversight, thereby enhancing a feeling of security and identity.

“Porches are a big thing. If you take a look at how traditional neighborhoods have been, and porch life, the challenge with so many houses is that they’re all turned around,” said Chapin. “They have a stiff façade to the street and a double-sided garage door. Nobody is talking, and everybody is in their backyards.”

Casey Land, the builder of Inglenook’s neighborhood, says that he’s already done all the big corporation stuff and wanted to move on to a project that was more fun. “I felt like a kid in the sandbox. And it’s a big sandbox, but not too big,” Land joked. “It’s a micro development and I’m dealing with five acres and not 200 acres – we’re a niche.”

The neighborhood is one of the lowest impact sites in Carmel, meaning they don’t have any retention issues and can ensure homeowners that each house is LEED certified and energy conscious. “We’re putting the right products out there because we want our houses to be low maintenance,” said Land.

When asked about his favorite thing about the Inglenook experience, Land immediately said it’s the people. “This is engagement. Every six weeks we do a porch party. When you sit there and you see your neighbors sitting on the front porch talking, while the other neighbors are planting their flowers – and the next thing you know, you’re planting your own flowers.”

Pocket neighborhoods are places that truly nourish the individual, support positive family relationships, and foster a strong sense of community.

“The fun part will be to come back in five or six years and see what everybody’s done,” Land said. “And see the individualism come out of each house.”

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