07/17/2014 12:54 pm ET

How Do You Make Friends As An Adult? This 'Social' Building Might Have The Answer

Remember when making a new friend was as easy as bumping into someone in the hallway of your dorm? It was just so easy in college. In adulthood? Not so much -- unless you count a vague head nod to your across-the-hall neighbor as "making friends."

A proposed residential-office building in Antwerp, Belgium, is trying to change all that. Its design features an unusual array of communal spaces meant to inspire social connection between tenants. From the communal fifth floor (where office workers and residents can mingle) all the way up to a three-story "green oasis" at the top of the tower, one thing is certain: This is not a place for shy types.

Though the high-rise has yet to be built, there is a notable trend in residential (or mixed-use) buildings towards communal features. For example, at 2M, a luxury building in Washington, D.C. comes with a "communal" dog that anyone can pet and enjoy. Other complexes are adding lush garden spaces. While some may say that it's a clever way to ask for higher rents, the push towards creating spaces where you're forced to actually -- gasp -- speak to a person just might be what we need in an age where we interact more with screens than with faces.

  • Here's what the exterior looks like.
    CF Møller & Brut
  • From the street, you can see the enclosed garden spaces.
    CF Møller & Brut
  • Each balcony has a great view of the city.
    CF Møller & Brut
  • The balconies are arranged so you can actually see (and chat with) your neighbors.
    CF Møller & Brut