Tim Gummer

New Zealanders are late to cohousing.  

Moving on from its first expressions 50 years ago, cohousing is now 10% of all Danish housing development. Even the chronically individualistic US has been introduced cohousing in appreciable numbers since the 90s, and enjoys a reasonably well developed ecosystem of coho-savvy architects, project-managers, and even developers.

Here, a sharing-adverse culture set in, despite the rural ohu style experiments of the 70’s, and ‘town planning’ a generous description at best – has seen – it wasn’t until a new millennium that our sole developed coho: Earthsong finally arrived.  But “Arrived” doesn’t do the founders justice.  Earthsong was an extremely long project to realize, given the trailblazing entailed for it to come into being.

And it may be that Earthsong’s daunting 15 year development dissuaded others from following so quickly in their footsteps.  But a decade on, and suddenly coho projects are sputtering into life right across Aotearoa.

Christchurch’s VIVA has 300 members. Dunedin’s High St has a site, as does Whangarei.  A nascent New Lynn project has started community-building and is moving at an incredible pace.  A Whangarei initiative is convening, and there is plotting and hatching in Central Auckland. There are Eco Village plans for Taranaki, and we hear unsubstantiated reports of projects in Auckland suburbs. And these are just the gestating projects we do know about.

Better late then never then: If ever Kiwis needed cohousing options, it’s now.

With home affordability galloping over the horizon for anyone not already, escalating urgency to live more sustainably, and the increasing frustration that many of us feel about being so societally disconnected - if we have any

What’s not to like?


PICTURED: "The Wave" in Almere, Nl, designed by René van Zuuk.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Harry Nl, Netherlands. Creative Commons: Some rights reserved