The paper focused on the relationships between physical characteristics of communal open spaces in residential environments, types of outdoor appropriation, and degree of resident satisfaction with visual appearance of the housing scheme, including the exterior appearance of buildings and outdoor spaces. It is emphasised the impact (positive and negative) quality of the built environment has on community formation, and its effects on management, maintenance and performance evaluation of housing schemes. The study is based on the premise that communal open spaces should be the back stage where residents have the opportunity to perform social, recreational and functional activities that promote contact between people. Nonetheless, considering the effectiveness of social housing projects, it is frequently noted that the role of communal open spaces has been neglected, both in terms of physical and social performance. As Gehl (1987) remarks, activities such as walking, standing, sitting, seeing, hearing, talking, playing or other community activities, which make outdoor residential environments particularly attractive and meaningful to be in are also the most sensitive to the quality of the physical environment. This reinforces Canter´s (1970) argument that one of the most significant effects of design on behaviour is that of facilitating or discouraging interaction among people, further emphasising the influence of site design on contacts between people.