Minimum dwelling space of low-cost walk-up flats forces life to spill outdoors involving daily mundane activities affecting neighbourhood social vitality. In design, this affordance of such ‘marginal’ outdoor space has been neglected. Using data derived from systematic observations in various low-cost walk-up flats, this paper explores the use of these outdoor near home spaces and found that they support various domestic, social and retreat activities generating liveliness in the otherwise barren low-cost environment. Potentials for social encounters and casual surveillance were partially affected by flats configurations. Keywords: building layout, near home space, social interaction eISSN 2514-751X © 2017 The Authors. Published for AMER ABRA by e-International Publishing House, Ltd., UK. This is an open-access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Peer–review under responsibility of AMER (Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers), ABRA (Association of Behavioural Researchers on Asians) and cE-Bs (Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.