Re: commonhouse design
From: MWorswick (
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 06:37:01 -0600 (MDT)
Hi Meryl,

I'm the "Matt" that Ann referred to (thanks Ann!) at Harmony Village in 
Golden CO.
The full version is Matt Worswick of Synergy Design (wasn't the previous S. 
Florida group called Synergy?), a specialist in sustainable residential 
design and cohousing communities.  Although I keep a low profile in national 
coho circles, I've worked steadily in cohousing for the last ten years and 
designed, or co-designed, six communities here in Colorado.

I completely agree with Ann that you hire an experienced cohousing designer.  
And I can certainly endorse all the others on her list.  The designer can 
help guide your group through decisions on prioritizing spaces and room 
sizes.  They will also be well versed in accoustic materials and separation 
issues.  Often the cohousing design specialist can "hand-off" a good 
conceptual design to a local architect who can complete the plans for 
construction based on local building practices and code requirements.

Be advised that there are some peculiarities in dealing with building codes 
when it comes to "mixed occupancy" buildings (in effect, mixing residential 
and commercial type uses).  So, it's important that your designer(s) have 
experience with "fire separations" between occupancies (guest rooms and 
assembly rooms for example), handicap accessibilty regulations, and  
"commercial cooking appliance" regulations (for example, the requirement for 
a large, expensive, and noisy fire suppression hood over your range).  In my 
experience in designing several common houses, the designer may have to go 
through a variance or appeal process with the local building code authority 
in order to avoid some of these requirements that are intended for commercial 
restuarants, etc.  It's important to know which of these requirements are 
really inappropriate for your common house and are therefore worth fighting.

I know there have been previous threads on this List about common house use 
and spaces, so I'd also recommend a search of the archives.

Best of Luck,

Matt Worswick
Synergy Design
(303) 278-1880

Resident of Harmony Village - where after 5 years, we are switching from a 
"team" structure of community maintenance to a "point person" structure, in 
the hopes of getting things done more efficiently.

In a message dated 05/22/2002 11:01:48 AM Mountain Daylight Time, 
cohousing-l-request [at] writes:

<< Message: 9
 From: "Ann Zabaldo" <zabaldo [at]>
 To: <cohousing-l [at]>
 Subject: Re: [C-L]_commonhouse design
 Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 11:41:23 -0400
 Organization: Great Expectations
 Reply-To: cohousing-l [at]
 Meryl --
 Well I'm totally delighted to see something happening in S.Florida!
 Congrats!  Where exactly in S. Florida?
 For Common House design my strong suggestion is to hire an architect who has
 a track record in this.  It will be the cheapest money you spend.  And all
 those questions you have can be answered by the group in concert w/ the
 architect during the programming session.
 Bruce Coldham Architect
 The Cohousing Company
 Kraus Fitch Architects
 Plus the architect-- whose first name is Matt --  who did a masterful job on
 the Harmony Village CH in Golden CO.  His name escapes me but he would be
 easy to find.
 And I'm sure there are other professionals working in cohousing that have
 experience in designing CH's.
 Have fun!  And congrats again!
 Ann Zabaldo
 Takoma Village Cohousing
 Washington, DC. -- America's
 zabaldo [at]
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