Re: Large CoHousing (was affordable housing)
From: Mark Dempsey (
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 12:36:27 -0600
As Carla rightly points out, CoHousing on a very large scale is
laughable.  It's not CoHousing at all.  It's called a "City." Or at
least a town or village.

Nevertheless, laughable as it may be as CoHousing, the sustainable
village slated for Vancouver is a thing of beauty, much to be desired. 
I've written this list previously to say that CoHousing is a subset (and
a pretty tiny one at that) of something called "New Urbanism" (or
Traditional Neighborhood Development, or neo-traditionalism).  If you
understand the design principals of New Urbanism, your development will
be better CoHousing.

It also pays those of you in cohousing to support New Urbanism in
surrounding development. I know there are many of you who want to really
have an impact, make a difference, etc.  For this, New Urbanism is the
genuine article.  It would save outlying land, reduce pollution, make
our population generally healthier and more cultured, and prevent those
nasty overseas adventures we're forced into because we're so
petroleum-dependent.  It costs no more than conventional development,
and is so desirable buyers pay a premium for it (much like CoHousing).  

For more, see my website starting at:

Carla McAuley wrote:
>  FWP wrote:
> If that
> >succeeds the work crew could go on to build the "model sustainable
> >village" for 5,000 people being planned by Vancouver City Administration.
> >Thus the benefits would snowball as longer term employment would also be
> >provided for some of the people who do the initial sweat equity work.
> >   False Creek Village could well be co-housing or co-housing-like. I
> >think it should at least have something like the old fashioned community
> >hall. That would make it the biggest co-housing project in the world,
> >larger even than one in Denmark where co-housing started which is for
> >2,000 people I am told.
> >Sincerely-FWP.
> I would like to point out that the research reported in the major books on
> co-housing puts the optimal size for a co-housing community is 12 to 36
> families.  Under 12, there is not enough diversity.  Over 36, the community
> gets too big for good face-to-face relationships and decision making, and
> breaks down into more impersonal ways of operation.  The idea that big is
> better and that a co-housing community could be as large as 5,000 would be
> laughable if it were not for the seriousness with which you present it.  The
> ONLY way this could EVER work is with clusters of 30 or so families and a
> common house.  So then you could have your cake and eat it too.  Because you
> could have your big development and grand scale planning, but human-sized
> community functioning.  Just be wary of the operation of this principle.
> The more you take daily decisions out of the hands of the people, the more
> the concept of co-housing suffers.  I would hate to see the concept of
> cohousing co-opted (to use a seventies term) by the "we know better than
> you" planners.
> Carla McAuley


-- mailto:Mark.Dempsey [at]
-- Mark Dempsey 
-- Technical Publications
-- Objective Systems Integrators
-- 110 Woodmere, Folsom, CA 95630
-- 916.353.2400 x 4777
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