Density, detached vs attached
From: Graham Meltzer (
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 95 18:36 CST
Eric Hart writes

"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"

It seems to me that there are two good arguments for attatched dwellings on
any sized site. 

Firstly, attatched housing presents oportunities for creating open spaces
between buildings which facilitate casual interaction between residents. If
you've read the Cohousing Book you'll know of the prototypical courtyard and
pedestrian 'street' site planning arrangements commonly used in Danish
schemes. Whilst these may not suit your community/climate/site/building
regulations etc. there is no doubt that attatched housing enables shared
open space to be better defined than do detatched dwellings. The variations
of form are endless however and it may be that your architect can find
attatched or semi-attached solutions which alay the fears some of your
members have.

Whether this is neccessary for social cohesion or an increased sense of
community is another issue which has been debated on cohousing-l previously.
Clearly it is not essential, but I feel that it helps a great deal. Rob S.
might say it's a non-issue. But I believe that the facilitation of closer
social interaction is what cohousing is essentially about, and that site and
building design should address that imperative both functionally and

The other advantage lies in land-use principles. Even if you have unlimited
space, compactness of development makes for efficient use of land and
residents time and energy in getting about. If you begin with spread out
housing then the common house, the vegetable gardens, the playing fields,
the stables, the woods etc will be that much further away from the residents
who use them. They will be used less often and less spontaneously.

One of the most impressive aspects for me of many Danish schemes, is their
land-use principles, particularly where land is limited, but rurally as
well. The overall site density of many I visited in 1992, was about that of
the surrounding suburbs. But because the housing is attached and therefore
dense, large areas of site become available for social spaces, gardens and
in some cases, woods. 

Eric, what particularly are your members fears? Are the issues noise, loss
of privacy, loss of individual identity, loss of personal control of their
environment? Have people clearly expressed their fears so that there is an
honest basis for discussion?

Please keep us posted. I feel this is a very important issue.

Good luck

Graham Meltzer
Lecturer (Architectural Design and CAD)
School of Architecture, Interior and Industrial Design
Queensland University of Technology
Tel:(07)864 2535(w)  (07)870 2090(h)  Fax:(07)864 1528

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