|Re: Best size for Cohousing Community||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Kay Argyle (argylemines.utah.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 12:59:54 -0600 (MDT)|
> 1. How many households are in your present community? How did you decide upon that number? Wasatch Commons has 26 households on 4.6 acres. Personally I'd prefer more space. I wasn't a member when size was decided. Regardless of the number and size of units you plan, the mix of household types you succeed in recruiting is going to influence your community size. Most of our members bought a bigger unit than they "needed" based on family size, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was true of most communities. We have * eight single childless adults, * two pairs of roommates, * nine single parents, * four couples with kids, and * three childless or empty-nest couples; * making thirteen households with kids (half the total), * of whom eight are only-children (to change soon in one case); and * about 20 "bedrooms" being used for offices, etc. Proportionally more households with children than without bailed out during the planning stages. > 2. What do you believe would be the optimal number of households for a cohousing community? >From my experience of decision-making both in community meetings of 20 to 30 people, most of them wishy-washy about most issues, and in committee meetings of four or five strong-minded enthusiasts, the dynamics are different, but one isn't always easier than the other. Decisions are faster in a smaller group. Less time gets wasted by people who didn't read or understand the proposal. On the other hand I think in large groups people "go along" more -- it's easier to stick to your guns when you only have to convince three people than when twenty don't see the point of your objection (I seem to stand aside on more proposals than I consense on, recently). That's good when you're "the cheese" (as in "the cheese stands alone"; my thanks to Gretchen Westlight of Cascadia for that concept), not so good when it's someone else digging in their heels on your proposal for no reason you understand or agree with. Given experience with 26 households, if I had a choice between bigger or smaller by, say, 6 households (20 or 32), I'd choose 20, or 32 split into two subcommunities. In a large community, communication has to be much more deliberate and formal. Word of mouth doesn't work above a small number. There are people I interact with daily and there are people I hardly interact with at all. This is both good and bad -- some people I'd like to know better, some people I'm just as happy not to have to deal with. Layout can affect whether a community is "too large," "too small," or "just right." Some of our community's teething problems can be set down to lack of privacy. Our design has fully common and fully private (inadequately set off from fully public in some cases) and little intermediate -- interface zones where people can feel they are on their household's territory yet visible and available. The depth of the front yard is important -- enough but not too much (there've been studies on this). EVERY unit needs a porch big enough for a table and chairs where you can invite somebody to sit down without inviting them into your house. Our yard is too shallow, and the porch is barely big enough for one chair. The book "A Pattern Language" discusses intimacy gradients of public to private space in architecture -- for instance, sidewalk, porch, front room, kitchen, bedroom: you let people into one whom you don't invite into the next, matching the intimacy of the relationship to the location. Our long S-curve layout (with street access at either end) contributes to a physical north vs. south division. (Plus we are currently concerned that the residents of a new subdivision will use our community as a throughway to get to the schools on the other side.) I've wondered if a big square, or cloverleafs of four to five households with a commons (a picnic table on a lawn or patio) in each center, and the common house at the stem, would have advantages. Personally I think it's unnatural to expect someone to associate equally with twenty or thirty other families. I'd be interested to see an approach that recognizes smaller groups as instinctive and allows for them (like the cloverleaf configuration), while fostering interconnections of each subunit into the larger group through, for instance, committee membership, rotating work teams, and mutual interests (parenting, gardening). Kay Argyle Wasatch Commons
- Best size for Cohousing Community Richard L. Kohlhaas, June 15 2000
- Re: Best size for Cohousing Community Berrins, June 28 2000
Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.