Models of cohousing -stretching the boundaries of the book definition
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 11:44:41 -0500
In America there seem to be three models of Cohousing : the new capital
project model - often referred to as the Danish model, the lot
development model and the retro-fit model.

The new capital project model is new contruction, planned all at once,
and built as one massive capital project. Examples of this include Muir
Commons, Winslow, Nyland.  

The lot development model is new contruction, the land is divided into
lots which owners design and build their own homes over a longer period
of time. Examples of this include Sharingwood, Rosewind.

The Retro-fit model takes an existing structure or neighborhood and
makes changes to it, small or large, either all at once or over time.
Examples of this include Doyle Street and N St. and Monteray.

Some groups have a mixture of models, for example Monteray has both a
retro-fit element and a capital project model in the same community.

It seems to me that retro-fit has a greatest potential to stretch the
definitions of what cohousing is. From my perspective, this is good
thing, as it offers many choices for many situations.  One interesting
idea I heard about the other day was a retro fit project where a large
house was remodelled around a central kitchen and dining/lounge, with
bedrooms and bathrooms and sitting rooms radiating off the central core,
each of the 5 roomlets was separated from the central "commonroom" by a
door.  What was interesting was that the residents planning this were
going to share ownership as a condo, with the condo defined as a roomlet
and one fifth of the commonspaces!  

Now, this particular idea seemed to my perspective to be a unique, but
replicable form of  small scale cohousing. They used a participatory
design process, have private ownership of "units" , share ownership of
commons, make decisions democratically, share meals in the "commonroom",
etc.  It seemed to meet any definition of cohousing I could think up.

So, just my perspective, that large, capital project model cohousing not
be the only definition we use for cohousing.


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