Re:Conference Opportunity! - "Suburban Studies"
From: maruja torres (
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 09:34:00 -0600 (MDT)
I've heard the concerns voiced in this mailing list about academia's
interest (or lack of) in cohousing.  I am happy to report that the
prospects are not as dim.

At the University of Florida in Gainesville we are well aware of cohousing
as an evironmentallly- and people-friendly alternative to mainstream
living. John Scanzoni, a sociologist, and Jo Hasell, a designer, have been
writing about cohousing and doing their share to disseminate the concept.
A few years back they even tried to convert part of a HUD project into
cohousing here in Alachua county.  The low-income single mothers that lived
there were interested in trying out the lifestyle and collaborated with
them in re-designing their homes. Unfortunately, HUD policies stood in
their way and the project was never put to practice.

John edited the Summer 2000 issue (dedicated to cohousing) of the Journal
of Architecture and Planning Research (JAPR).  Along with an article that
describes this experiment, there are articles by Graham Meltzer
(Australia), Dick Vestbro, Clare Cooper, and Dorit Fromm in this issue.
John's latest book, "Designing Families. The search for Self and Community
in the Information Age" (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2000), which
deals with family structure and relationships -his area of specialty-, has
a chapter on cohousing.

Jo gave a seminar on cohousing to a group of UF doctoral students in 1997,
and the concept is frequently discussed in other courses in our college.  I
was one of the students in jo's seminar, and the topic sparked my interest.
 It is now the subject of my dissertation, which I hope to finally complete
in the Fall.  It will be available on .pdf format through the University of
Florida's website when I am done. The co-hommies at Lake Claire Cohousing
in Atlanta have been my willing subjects, friends, and inspiration.  

In July I will give a paper (co-authored with Jo and John) at the 16th.
Conference of the International Association for People-Environment Studies
in Paris, France. The subject is, of course, cohousing. This is a humongous
conference of people from across the world who do research on communities,
new urban patterns, sustainability, the reciprocal effects of people and
the environment, spatial behavior, and the like. Amos Rapoport, Azra
Churchman and Kim Dovey are among the speakers in this conference.
Many other UF professors in the departments of Architecture, Interior
Design, and Urban Planning, as well as researchers from Sociology and
Anthropology know about cohousing.  So, you see, there are clusters of
people within academia that are not only aware of, but interested in
cohousing, and who are doing their share to spread the idea. 

Jo, John, and myself recently joined a team of professiionals that are
volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.  Habitat has plans for a self-built
eco-village in Alachua county that we hope will incorporate cohousing
features such as a common house. As you can imagine, this really is a
novelty for which there are very few precedents.  Our project has alredy
received coverage in the media because Habitat is not generally known for
building communities. Habitat usually builds single homes where resident
participate in the construction (but not the design) phase.  The team's
approach has been to take this even further: efforts are being made to make
this community as sustainable as possible, incorporating a range of green
features in the design. We also want this community to be as empowering as
possible for the residents, and cohousing seems to us the appropriate model
for this. At this point we don't know yet how much cohousing this is going
to be, but residents will participate in the development and management of
the community. It will have common grounds, shared parking, Energy-Star
homes and a common house. We are trying our best, because many people are
looking at us. 

At 10:53 PM 5/26/00 -0500, Diane Simpson wrote:
>I went to a Boston Society of Architects talk on Livable Cities the other
>night (attended by at least 200 people--the Rabb lecture hall was almost
>full) and somone asked the Pulitzer-Prize winning speaker what he thought
>of that "kind of housing where they have shared meals and services..I don't
>know what you call it.."
>The lecturer admitted he didn't know what you called it.
>At least half the audience called out in unison: "COHOUSING!"
>My conclusion is that "acadamia only talks to itself and is out of contact
>with the real world." I think that architects as a group (at least the ones
>in Boston) are very well aware of what cohousing is, but they do not see it
>as their role to promote it.
>If TCN were to start *somewhere* in promoting cohousing, I would agree that
>the architecture and sociology departments in schools across the country
>would be an excellent place to start. Architectual societies would also be
>a good place. I myself am trying to get in on the "Civic Initiative for a
>Livable New England" to see if I can get anything at all into the program
>I appreciate the notice about the call for papers, and will probably send
>SOMETHING in even though I do not expect to get a call to present anything
>because I am not in academia.
>- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
>>I don't know what to conclude from this: Either acadamia only talks to
>>and is out of contact with the real world, or cohousing has not done enough
>>to spread the gospel.  Maybe some of both. But thank you, Ginny Moreland,
>>for >making us aware.
>>I wonder is there perhaps an opportunity for some targeted promotion (by TCN
>>perhaps?) of cohousing to academia -- say the Architecture and the Sociology
>>Departments of every school in the country?
>       @@                 coho [at]                  @@
>      @@@@       Diane Simpson       @@@@
>      |  |     Boston, MA 02130-4436        617-522-2209     |  |
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Maruja Torres, PhD candidate
<mtorres [at]>

University of Florida College of Architecture
Department of Interior Design
340 ARCH PO Box 115705
Gainesville FL 32611-5705

Phone (352) 392-0252 ext. 333
Fax (352) 392-7266

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