Cohousing is intentional clustered housing with some common facilities and shared neighbourhood life.
Cohousing communities are created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home but residents come together to manage their community and share activities.
Cohousing counters the alienation and isolation many experience today, systematically building on time-honoured practices of the neighbourly support that are found in historic communities the world over.
Sustainability is a big win from cohousing, though both intentional physical design in materials, gardens and energy sources, but even more from the efficiencies of sharing resources rarely used individually. The average lifetime use of a US powertool is reported to be around 13 minutes.
Let that sink in for a bit. How much stuff that you own and consume as a household, do you need or or want to pay for, maintain, store and dispose of - individually?
Essentially Cohousing is…
- Co-developed, co-designed, and co-organized by residents.
- Extensive common facilities supporting daily life - particularly a common house
- Shared space to enable community interaction, and car-free.
- Resident managed.
- A decision making process free of hierarchy
- A trade-off of ~10% reduction in individual space frees resources for shared facilities: common house, workshops, studios, gardens, open space
- Cohos are diverse - rural permaculture thru to compact urban
- Privacy is not compromised, residents choose their level of sociability
- 12-32 household scale works best
- Increased affordability is not automatic, but achievable when the community is developer.
- Top down design doesn’t work -codesign does
- The biggest challenge is finding a site
Cohousing is well established in Europe (10% of Danish developments are coho) and the US; here, a new wave of diverse communities are developing after the success of Earthsong in West Auckland.