Urban design and cohousing: creating more sustainable and humane community environments
What is cohousing?
Cohousing (cohousing) is a housing development model and type of community based on the concept of living, where teams of residents are involved in the design planning, design and management, and where close neighbourhood relationships are established in the operation of the community.
Forms and examples of Cohousing
Cohousing communities can take a variety of forms: they can be multi-generational or senior cohousing communities depending on the age structure of the residents; they can be clusters of buildings, individual buildings, or even one or more floors within a building depending on the layout; they can be sub-divided ownership, co-operative, rental or a mix of ownership types.
The Case of Co-housing in Canada
Canada has established a publicly available co-housing information network (Canadian Cohousing Network), which provides more detailed information on the shared facilities, prices, construction status, units for sale and completion standards of different co-housing communities (see Table 1). The client group can select the right community for site visits and information gathering based on their needs. The first concern for clients is the shared facilities of the community. While there is some variation in the configuration of shared facilities between communities, the core communal components: large kitchens and dining rooms are essential and are at the heart of co-operative housing. The communal kitchens are more often open for meals on a fixed number of days on a rota basis, so that residents do not have to set aside personal time for small family meals.
The future of cohousing communities
- Digital and sustainable development
The future of cohousing communities will be more digital and sustainable. This includes the use of smart technology to improve the efficiency and safety of communities, for example by using big data deep mining techniques with smart matching or by identifying potential partners for cooperative housing construction. The use of big data to integrate the use of renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions and the use of environmentally friendly materials to build and furnish communities.
- Flexibility and customizability
The future of cohousing communities will be more about flexibility and customizability. This includes the design of mobile or expandable housing units that allow residents to customize and change their housing space to suit their needs and preferences. At the same time, communal facilities in the community should be flexible and variable to accommodate the different needs and activities of residents. For example, the Swedish innovation agency vinnova and the Swedish National Architecture and Arkdes, exploring the ‘One Minute Cities’ initiative, have launched an urban project called street moves, which explores how to build these streets around culture and naturerather than traffic.
-Using wood instead of the usual concrete materials to convey the idea of sustainable urban development.
-Developing a set of modular street furniture that can be fitted with inserts as needed, with the possibility of customization and iteration over time.
-Customized street transformation scenarios, defined by direct neighborhood participation, emphasizing the concept of a bottom-up neighborhood.
(Renewable materials soften street boundaries)
(Provides a diverse range of street furniture)
- Collaboration and the sharing economy
The future of cohousing communities will have a greater focus on collaboration and the sharing economy. This includes things like shared transport, shared agriculture and shared commercial facilities to reduce wasted resources and save costs. At the same time, collaboration and sharing in a community can also facilitate interaction and socialisation between residents, creating a more humane and mutually supportive community environment.