As a part of a study published in the publication Science Direct, researchers representing Deakin University’s School of Health and Social Development recently took a look at photo-narratives involving 10 families who a. have pre-school aged children and b. reside in high-rise developments in the city of Yarra in inner Melbourne. The subject of the study involved interconnectedness among the families.

They found that social interconnectedness in this environment was constricted, primarily due to a lack of space and worries related to noise and privacy. Families did desire chances for social interaction, says lead researcher Dr. Elyse Warner, but were stifled by structural restrictions inherent in high-rise construction.

With few open-air play areas and worries about disturbing neighbours, these families seemed reluctant to arrange get togethers and—for their kids—playdates with other residents. And as a whole, apartment complexes are designed to better accommodate unmarried individuals and childless couples.

This is a growing concern, as more and more high-density residential complexes are being built across Australia—with as many as 37 percent of structures built in Yarra taking this form. And according to Warner, 775 families with kids resided in high-density buildings in this region as of 2016.

She advises high-rise developers to include more designated play areas and open spaces in their building plans, and enhance noise regulations. She also said that city councils should develop common areas to enhance community connections.

Warner did acknowledge the City of Yarra’s abundant parklands and organised mother’s groups. Yet she sees room for enhancement in this area, with more open spaces reserved for parks, barbecue and recreation spaces.