Cohousing Neighbourhoods... Some people call them a return to the best of
small-town communities. Others say they are like a traditional village or
the close-knit neighbourhood where they grew up, while futurists call them
an altogether new response to social, economic and environmental challenges
of the 21st century. Each holds a piece of the truth. Cohousing is a concept
that came to North America in 1988 from Denmark where it emerged over 25
years ago. It describes neighbourhoods that combine the autonomy of private
dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living.
Residents usually own their individual homes, which are clustered around a
"common house" with shared amenities. These amenities may include a kitchen
and dining room, children's playroom, workshops, guest rooms, home office
support, arts and crafts area, laundry and more. Each home is
self-sufficient with a complete kitchen, but resident-cooked dinners are
often available at the common house for those who wish to participate. In
some communities participants will join a cooking team once or twice a
month - then sit and enjoy meals cooked by fellow residents the remaining
evenings of that month.
Cohousing residents participate in the planning, design, ongoing management
and maintenance of their community, meeting frequently to address each of
these processes. Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer environmentally
sensitive design with a pedestrian orientation. They typically range from
10-35 households emphasizing a multi-generational mix singles, couples,
families with children, and elders.
In North America 119 cohousing communities have been completed since 1991
and there are currently more than 100 new communities in various stages of development. The level of social
interaction and shared resources varies among communities. A cohousing
development seems limited only by the imagination, desire and resources of
the group of people who are actively creating their own neighbourhood.
Cohousing groups are based in democratic principles that espouse no ideology
other than the desire for a more practical and social home environment.
Cohousing provides personal privacy combined with the benefits of living in
a community where people know and interact with their neighbours. It's about
living in a way that's responsive to a world that has changed dramatically
in the last fifty years-a world in which the home life has changed, women
are integral in the labour force, resource limitations and environmental
concerns are on the rise, and many people feel over extended. 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