trends in redesigning houses for privacy & togetherness
From: Hans Tilstra (
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2004 18:55:49 -0700 (PDT)
Originally, cohousing designs included the suggestion that people should be
able to trade rooms, as their housing needs expanded or contracted. So, a
retired couple might decide to sell an adjacent bedroom to the neighbours,
who were looking for a larger house. The building design of cohousing should
accommodate the feasibility of replacing a door with a soundproof wall, or
putting a door into a wall. Whilst few cohousing designs seem to have
adopted this idea, an article in today's Sunday Age (Melbourne, Australia)
flags the potential need for this flexibility in design. .

In this article Angela Neustatter (writing in "Sunday Life" 18 July 2004)
raises questions about trends in managing privacy & togetherness, with
potential links to cohousing. She brings together some of the ideas of the
following authors:

Sue Heath, co-author of "Young, Free And Single" looked at the accommodation
choices of people in their mid-20s. A lot of them preferred to share a home
with friends, not partners, because they understood the tensions that being
too on top of each other can bring. I think there is a strong sense of the
tension between independence and partnership. But even though they may be
choosing different ways to build a relationship, most of the young people we
interviewed had traditional aspirations and wanted a committed relationship
with roots when the time was right."

In her book Rethinking Families, based on a five-year study, UK social
policy professor Fiona Williams looks at how new domestic arrangements are
affecting family values. Far from fuelling the pro-family campaigners who
see moral collapse in today's trends, Williams argues that the desire to
make relationships endure is as strong as ever. "One of the things that
people have become very aware of is the need for personal space," she says,
leading to new forms of separate togetherness.

Janet Reibstein, a psychologist and author of a study of happy marriages The
Best-Kept Secret (to he published next year) found that "The couples who
have survived the long haul best are those who are conscious of the need to
keep their relationship alive and vibrant and recognise what they need to do
to achieve this. "They might well follow their own pursuits and they don't
begrudge each other separateness. But they also want time together. Being
able to talk and communicate feelings and needs to each other, as well as
wanting to make the other happy, comes up over and over again."

Penny Mansfield, director of One Plus One, a British marriage research
organisation, warns that putting too much focus on creating distance in a
relationship is risky. "If one partner announces he or she wants separate
space and the other has thought they were doing fine being very together, it
can feel rejecting." And then there is the question, she suggests, of where
the parameters are. Is this an open relationship or still sexually
exclusive? Does it involve meal times together? Will financial sacrifice be
involved? "Couples have to be good at communicating and caring for their
relationship to introduce a fairly radical new shape."

any thoughts?


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