In this post I would like to talk about the concept of CoHousing, from a point of view more theoretical than formal, as I believe that many of the principles can be successfully applied to the future of housing settlements.
CoHousing is a term used to describe a type of community housing composed of private homes supplemented by shared facilities. The community is planned and managed by its residents.
It is a concept that emerged in Denmark in the 60s, where there was built the first community in 1972, Sættedammen.
Since then these communities have grown and developed around the world, especially in northern Europe and in the Netherlands, one of the countries with the biggest CoHousing communities in the world.
Also in the U.S., with hundreds of them. In this article in the New York Real Estate is possible to read the experience of a group creating a community in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York.
But, as I said at the beginning, I’m more interested in the concepts then in the formalization:
Regarding the users, this type of housing arrangement seeks to gather a community multi-generational, where each age group can enrich and be enriched by others, from children to seniors.
Some of those settlements are focused on creating senior communities, which could be a very good housing option for them, adapted to their needs.
And regarding the way they are design, each CoHousing settlement is planned within its context, with direct participation of the users, based on their needs, and flexible to change.
The common areas are one of its main features, spaces to interact with other people in the community, spaces for children (playgrounds) or adults (green spaces, gardening), leaving out the car traffic.
This type of settlement is providing alternatives to sprawl, that is much more isolated and individualistic, but the density of the communities built so far is quite similar to the single-family houses ones. What if we apply the concepts to a higher density?
Multi-generational blocks of houses, with the user as an active part of the design, flexible (since the user may o may not be there from the beginning), and common areas within the building, targeting different population groups. Following principles shown in projects like the Silodam, from MVRDW in Amsterdam, a project of high density CoHousing.
Those concepts are directly linked to what I discussed in the entry “The TypEvolution”, and show a valid alternative to deal with housing projects in the future, which can be very beneficial for the users.