Cohousing is a concept that came to North America from Denmark where it
emerged about 30 years ago. It describes neighbourhoods that combine the
autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources
and community living. In North America over 60 cohousing communities have
been completed since the late 1980s (five of which are in BC), and another
130+ are in various stages of development.
Cohousing includes all of the following characteristics:
• participatory process—residents participate in the planning and development;
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• the physical design encourages a sense of community, providing opportunities
for spontaneous connection as well as maintaining the option for privacy;
• non-hierarchical structure and decision-making; and
• cohousing is based on private ownership of complete, self-contained
homes centered around and focused on shared facilities, such as children's
play spaces, adult meeting spaces, library, office, workshop, guest room,
common kitchen and dining room, gardens, greenhouse and other features
the members may choose. Although each home has its own complete kitchen,
shared dinners are typically available a few days each week at the common
house for those who wish to participate.
Community feeling and connection is created by:
• the participation of all members in the planning, development and operation
of the community, using a consensus decision-making process and
• the physical layout of the buildings, which is planned to create opportunities
for interaction with neighbours, as well as privacy.
The characteristics of cohousing draw many different people, and the celebration
of diversity is one of the ideals. Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer
environmentally sensitive design with a pedestrian orientation. They typically
range from 10-35 households, emphasizing a multi-generational mix of singles,
couples, families with children, and elders.
Cohousing offers hope in our often dissociated
society. Through cohousing, we can build a better place to live, a place
where we know our neighbours, a place where we can enjoy a rich sense
of community and contribute to a more sustainable world.
For more information about cohousing, check out these great sites:
The Cohousing Association
of the US