Density, detached vs attached
From: Eric Hart (harteFree-Net.Mpls-StPaul.MN.US)
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 95 21:10 CST
    In my work with the Riverside group in Wisconsin we have discussed 
the issues of density.  More specifically we have debated the issue of 
whether or not units should be clustered with some shared walls or be detached
 units in a cluster.  The issue seemed to be a controversial one and one 
which people have a large amount of 'baggage' and strong emotions about.  
        I  have always had a predjudice against single family detached 
housing, especially after my studies as an Urban Studies major.  The 
group seemed to have two distinct 'sides', one which wanted the 
traditional detached house and another which wanted to get away from all 
that the detached house symbolized and have more shared walls and living 
space.  We were never able to resolve this conflict and what happened was 
that the people who were ready to move out to the site in the near future 
started designing their own cluster.  They are still working out the 
        I don't want to impose my predjudice on any group but still I 
think that the issue of attached vs detached should be addressed.  
Clearly there are ecological benefits to building units with shared walls 
and many of the problems that people encounter in existing shared wall 
units can be remedied by intelligent design (noise, etc.).  The last 
meeting we had before the whole group stopped planning was to explore 
people's feelings and fears about living in a unit that has shared 
walls.  Clearly this issue brings up very strong emotions, at least it 
did with the group I work with.  I'm not sure what those emotions are but 
I know that it certainly would be easier to ignore them and just do the 
socially acceptable detached unit design.  Trying to dispell the old 
single family detached house myth is important to me but I hit a brick 
wall when I try start any kind of discussion about it.  Its like trying 
to tell someone that their car isn't good for the environment.  
Alternatives don't even enter their consciousness. 
        I would be interested to know if other groups have tried to deal 
with these issues and what the results have been.  Riverside is a rural 
site so land considerations aren't very relevant (they have a 10-20 acre 
building site).  If there was only 3 or 5 acres available, then I could 
see where there wouldn't be a lot of room for debate (you would have to 
use attached units to fit all the units in).  I do know that there some 
cohousing communities that have more than a few acres so I would be 
interested to know if this issue even came up.  

Eric Hart
harte [at]

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