Be In My Backyard — A framework for community integration

The Not in my Backyard (NIMBY) phenomenon is exactly what its name suggests. Residents oppose building certain ‘undesirable’ developments close to their homes despite a general consensus that these facilities are beneficial or important to society at large. Public sentiment often leans toward labelling these facilities as “places that should exist but be out of sight.” When a new development is opposed by the community, compromise and tolerance is often the only course of action. In collaboration with FARM, we have crafted the IMBY framework of 6 strategies with 3 overarching principles designed to reverse the opposition by providing tangible benefits for the community.


Get the IMBY FrameworkFree PDF Download


In order to effect a change in community sentiment towards new developments, there needs to be a shift in mindsets and perception away from what was once deemed undesirable.

Misunderstood and rejected Understood and accepted
Undesirable and tolerated Celebrated as part of identity and pride
Perceived negative impact Tangible positive impact to neighbourhood

3 Guiding Principles
Through our research as part of an ongoing project, we discovered how various methods lead to desirable changes in mindsets away from NIMBY. Increasing exposure to the development introduces normalcy in people’s lives, while planning intentional interactions creates deeper relationships, and building ownership instills belonging in people. These manifested themselves in the 3 principles below, which illustrate the various ways in which an existing community can form relationships and connections with a new development, shifting perceptions from NIMBY to IMBY (In My Backyard).

INCIDENTAL ENCOUNTERS Introducing normalcy through exposure between residents and users of the proposed development increases incidental encounters and shared experiences.
DELIBERATE INTERACTIONS Building communities through frequency and routines facilitates deliberate interactions alongside habit formation and regularity.
SUSTAINED OWNERSHIP Establishing long-term involvement through sharing creates sustained ownership among residents.

With increasing degrees of programming, from sporadic to consistent to committed, the principles as part of this framework aim to inculcate acceptance and integration of a development as part of the neighbourhood and community. Elements that fall under programming include the level of community involvement, time dedicated, and intensity of programming put in place.

From these principles, we derived six effective strategies intended for implementation in a project scheme.

They help to integrate interactive opportunities within the spatial design and planning, fostering moments of community engagement that gradually build towards inclusion.


Get the IMBY FrameworkFree PDF Download


6 Strategies

1. Preferred Path

We all have a preferred way of getting home. We may walk through a building because it is the shortest route or along the side of the building because it offers shade. Rather than try to separate residents from the development they are opposing, why not intentionally carve out paths with tangible benefits that will draw residents in naturally? This allows for spontaneous interactions to occur between residents and the development and encourage naturalisation. In short, create more incidental encounters in common spaces to introduce a sense of normalcy surrounding the development in relation to the residents’ lives.

2. Best-in-Area

The best ______ in any given area tends to draw a crowd. What might you create in the development that would be the best of its kind in the neighbourhood? This facility should be designed as a sure hit that would draw the community to the development week after week. In short, create more incidental encounters by fostering more positive exposure with this facility as part of the community’s lifestyle.

3. Created Conveniences

We all have go-to locations for completing our daily list of errands. What amenities or facilities could we provide at the development that would encourage residents to stop by frequently? Would these be parked in a convenient location for residents to get things done? In short, create conveniences that are easily incorporated into the residents’ everyday patterns so that it encourages intentional check-ins.

4. Supportive Routines

Engaging programmes endear a community to a place over time. What are some programmes that the community would participate in regularly and commit to over time? What facilities would encourage the flourishing of such programmes? In short, increase the frequency of interactions so that habits and commitments naturally form to allow for rhythmic encounters and connections to occur amongst the neighbourhood.

5. My Place

When we start to view a place as our own, we naturally want to take responsibility for it and think of it as a place of choice for our activities. What would make residents take ownership of a place over time? In short, inject responsibility amongst residents to take ownership of the space which would then become part of the community and identity.

6. My Pride

As we start to invest our time and effort into a place that thrives over time, we begin to feel a sense of pride at what we have achieved as a community. This place is now iconic to the neighbourhood and celebrated for the part it plays in the community. How would we build up these feelings of pride within a community? In short, instil pride amongst residents to celebrate the space and create value for the neighbourhood.

Using the IMBY Framework
As a summarised framework, the 6 strategies under the 3 guiding principles vary in their degrees of community interaction, programming intensity and time dedicated. The strategies are meant to be applied individually or in various combinations depending on the context as well as the level of support available to develop and sustain the required programming and involvement; they need not be sequentially rolled out. We hope that this framework becomes a valuable toolset that will help you shift the needle for your projects towards acceptance and integration in a community.

Go ahead, click here to save and share the IMBY framework for easy reference in future projects!

Yong Jieyu, Gan Huitse, Chia Yan Wei, Desiree Lim, Elisa Raciti
In collaboration with FARM


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