Re:Re:Making Good Designs
From: Daniel Martin (
Date: Thu, 11 May 95 03:07 CDT
     To Bill Pais in #483, I must agree with your sentiment that  "...the
CoHousing designs which have been completed are a collaborative effort
between trained professionals and the user group."
     The participation of an experienced architect (which is to say,
someone with experience in housing design and construction) and the input
of the members of the proposed community is a vital relationship.  In some
ways, selecting an appropriate architect/designer is analogous to selecting
a midwife: in both instances the success of the "birth" may rely on the
skill of the person(s) brought in to assist and the degree of mutual trust
that exists between all involved.  The operative word here is "assist"; the
architect/designer's role is preferably one in which they are helping to
bring the vision of the group into a workable scheme.  Few people,
professional or non, can immediately walk into a role such as this w/o some
kind of prior, closely related, experience.
     Which leads me to respond to Harry Pasternak's assertions from #484;
he writes:
>There are two separate issues here, at least:
>A. * If you believe that you don't need a broker to invest wisely in the
>mutual funds.
>    * If you believe that you don't need a mechanic to service your car.
>    * If you believe that you can create your own neighborhood/communiy.
>    * Then why wouldn't you  design your own neighborhood/community without
>an   architect?
>B. If you are going to use an architect:
>    * Would you really hire anyone who believes that there is a right "Danish
>model" for  building successfull collaborative/cooperative/cohousing?
>   * Would you hire an architect who had never had a previous
>collaborative/cooperative/cohousing neighborhood (that he or she designed)
>evaluated by  a third party utilizing non-obtrusive research methods, a year
>after the folks moved in?
>   * Would you hire an architect who hasn't studied the research on the
>social and psychological aspects of medium density housing?
>Harry Pasternak

...I would respond to section A by saying that in each instance,
experience is priceless and increases in value exponentially as your
investment increases, whether it's mutual funds or an old Chevy.  Also,
while you are welcome to "hit or miss" with car repairs, or even your own
mutual funds (though I'd still suggest getting some expert advice...), the
kinds of resources expended in a group effort like cohousing, deserve the
input of those with previous experience, if only to INSURE success in the
    As for section B, I think that Harry hit it right on the head, as far
as the criteria for selecting an architect/designer, though up to this
point, I supposed that I presumed that anyone preparing to invest in a
cohousing development would actively seek out an architect/designer who had
the kind of background that would prepare them for such a project; they do
    "Non-obtrusive research methods"?  Hmmm, I think its a great idea
(really), but how many examples of this approach are there?  Should that
really be the acid test of whether or not an individual is qualified?  With
so much talk previously about how "unneccessary" the architect is, I must
ask why in this case, a professional opinion should be a requirement, when
perhaps a review by the client of the architect's portfolio, experience and
philosophy would be sufficient.  After all, there is no guarantee that the
"Non-obtrusive researcher" would share the same goals/philosophy as the
prospective client and architect.


"One thing Shakespeare never said was, 'You've got to be kidding'".

Robyn Hitchcock

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