RE: RetroFit Cohousing
From: Chris "Kif" Scheuer (
Date: Sun, 7 Jul 2002 18:14:02 -0600 (MDT)
>Starting with a commonhouse might be the thing that really gets it  moving.
>It instantly creates a sense of community and commonground. You have a
>center and a space to share activities equally. You also have a place to
>store jointly purchased stuff like lawnmowers or food.

I visited CommunityNow! in Rochester NY not too long ago, who sort of tried
this and it would be interesting to talk with them. It appeared at the time
of our visit that they were struggling to maintain membership and activity.
It was not the lack of a common house that seemed to be an impediment, but
the lack of critical housing stock in connection to each other, which
afforded the cohousing space to emerge. They did (i believe, if anyone from
CN is reading please correct me if I am wrong) start with a common house, a
duplex with half as common house and half as one family's home. However they
could never obtain enough of the houses on the block to really open up yards
and make their own space, and then families starting moving out for a
variety of reasons. The common house was I think a strong attraction
initially, but without the critical mass of houses connected to create safe
play spaces and the urban oasis they had desired it didn't have enough
staying power, so in a sense they had much of the
organizational/administrative burdens of cohousing, without the spatial
benefits. Again if anyone from CN! is reading this and I am wrong in my
impressions, please correct me. Worth talking with them if someone is
thinking about trying this approach.

Chris Scheuer
Master of Science Program         *              Research Assistant
Doctoral Program in Architecture  o  Center for Sustainable Systems
University of Michigan            *               430 E. University
cscheuer [at]                o       Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1115
                                  o             ph:    734-936-2542
                                  *             fax:   734-647-5841

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