Re: New Home Developments
From: Paul Milne (
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 10:35:29 -0600

I'm revisiting this post for several reasons:

i) The list is too quiet.

ii) Our group in Edinburgh might very well be situated in the midst of a
larger housing estate.

iii) I'm concerned about the lack of resident design.

One of the tenets of cohousing that has been drummed into us over the years
has been "The future residents play an active part in designing the site".

I know this breaks down a bit in special circumstances: people will move in
who have had no hand at all in the design; people will renovate existing
buildings for cohousing use; you supply others. But in most of these, people
who are living in the scheme have had at least some, if not major, control
over major design issues.

I assume it's because each group has individual housing problems to solve,
and the best way to solve these, and to make the scheme a place that people
feel a real ownership in (as opposed to just plain owning it), is that
people will walk about the sight, bring their own experiences and desires to
the situation, and create something they actually want. Pre-built housing is
often "good enough", but is "good enough" good enough?

How does the idea of buying pre-built houses in a scheme fit into this? And
if the exceptions become too many...

Lot model sites: everyone builds their own
N Street model: knock the back gardens of houses on a suburban street
Renovation: take old warehouse, gut it, add some new rooms
Buy some new houses on an estate: build a common house to go with it

... does it become legitimate to question this "residents design the homes"
pillar of the cohousing creed? Should it be amended? Anyone have a suggested
rewording? "Future residents build elements of communal life into the site"?

As to our own site, we are looking at a large site that will hold 100 homes
eventually, and we are looking to snag a corner zoned for 25 houses -- but
then use the land to have our own bit built to our own specification. At no
time have we considered going ahead if we can't do it this way.

Paul Milne
Cohousing 2000
Edinburgh, Scotland

> Because land prices are so high here and land is
> so scarce, Kathy Kelly (formerly from Sonora Cohousing in Tucson) and I have
> started looking into the alternative of buying into a new home development
with a
> community-oriented layout and turning it into cohousing. I found a new
> in Mountain View. Most of it seems just like cohousing to me except for the
> of common house and the large home size:

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