Cohousing combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of community living. It has private units, semi-private space and indoor and outdoor communal space. It is built at low, medium and high densities and in a variety of layouts and locations. (Williams, 2005)
I had some narrow views at the beginning of the cohousing studies. In my opinion, the cohousing is just for old people or low income people. But after I visited the Lancaster Cohousing, I got the new ideas of the cohousing. The residents there not just old and low income people, some middle class who want more social activities are also willing to take part in. they sharing some facilities with each other. They have common house which provide food storage, tollhouses, bicycle shed and public kitchen. All in all, now I believe that cohousing is a good way to design neighborhoods for social interaction. It was a traditional lifestyle for neighborhoods before. However, the fast-paced lifestyle is dominated people’s contemporary life. Less communication happened between the houses in residential areas. It is time to making some changes for the situation. Cohousing is the better choice for the dwellers to saving space and sharing time with each others. (Jarvis, 2011)
Basing on the social aspects of cohousing, I think the next step for cohousing development is ecological and affordable. This is the case study for Lilac. Lilac is a housing cooperative project in Leeds, UK, 2009. There are three key points for the project. Firstly, the low impact living from. It is not only the technological challenge, but also redefining relationship between communities, individuals and markets. Secondly, affordable: mutualism and the challenge of equality. It is always struggling for build low- or zero-carbon ecohousing. A good financial scheme is needed. Thirdly, establish community self-governance. The common house is the center of cohousing which creates a geographical heart looking inward to the community as well as acting as a permeable interface outwards. (Catterton, 2013)
Layout of the Lilac development (source: White Design Associates)
Catterton, P. (2013) “Towards an Agenda for Post-carbon Cities: Lessons from Lilac, the UK’s First Ecological, Affordable Cohousing Community”, Urban and Regional Research, 2013(10), pp1-21.
Jarvis, H. (2011) “Saving space, sharing time: integrated infrastructures of daily life in cohousing”, Environment and Planning A, 2011(43), pp560-577.
Williams, J. (2005) “Designing Neighbourhoods for Social Interaction: The Case of Cohousing”, Urban Design, 10(2), pp195-227.