Re: community design
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 94 13:13 CST
Graham Metzler wrote:
>And that's where the title of this thread comes in. Community design where
>architects are involved, is about demystification of the design process and
>a debunking of the traditional architect's role as artist-genius ... remote
>and unchallenged. In a cohousing context, it's an empowering of the group
>.... both by the architect and the group itself ... such that members feel
>involved in the design process and in a position to make critical decisions
>WITH the architect. Not many architects are prepared to step down from there
>pedestals in this way, nor incur the loss of income that such time consuming
>processes incur. But they are around and it seems to me, almost essential
>for cohousers to seek them out or forever feel that they don't own the
>design of their physical environment.

One of the key points of design in cohousing  is cost.  I have yet to 
learn of a cohousing community that didn't have financial constraints.  
Cost drives most projects and requires tradeoffs.  What is important is 
that groups make that clear from the beginning so if the architects 
have any savvy at all, they will use things like standard framing wood 
lengths, standard roof trusses, stacked plumbing and other cost saving 
design features.  The group should not have to think of all these 
things themselves, but be able to rely on the professionals expertise 
on how to cut costs.

It would be interesting to add to the list above of what are the cost 
saving design features which can be generally incorporated.  For 
example, are there design solutions for electrical fixture wiring to 
minimize the costs? Are their techniques for doing foundations which 
save money? How about roofing savings by designing simple roofs?  These 
are all incremental savings which can add up, especially over the whole 

I think having a cost associated with design features would help group 
members evaluate tradeoffs. For example, if the cost of window dormers 
was generalized you could evaluate its value.  During design time you 
make hundreds of decisions, and hopefully the architect is your 
resource to tell you the consequences of the decision both in terms of 
design and costs.

Rob Sandelin
Puget Sound Cohousing Network

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