Design for interaction, secutiry, and integration
From: ken (
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 06:35:48 -0800 (PST)
Grace Kim wrote:
> Ken wrote (and I seriously paraprashed):
> ....
> I think Ken's experience is quite easy for many Americans to relate to.
> Cohousing is a lot like living in a college dorm.
> ....

It wasn't that it was a dorm, or college per se (though living in a
place where there's activity and interaction and learning going on is an
environment that many people enjoy).  This particular building was much
nicer in a lot of ways than most buildings and even most standard
college buildings.  One important aspect was that the places where
activities were going on were incorporated into the living space, not in
separate, closed off, out of the way rooms.  On the contrary, you
couldn't get to your own room without at least passing by people doing
things together.   This led to activities happening spontaneously,
without the ponderous overhead of "organizing something" or knocking on
doors or phoning people to arrange something. There's a world of
difference between this and having a party room in the basement where no
one goes unless something is planned, the room is reserved, and so on.

Another point to consider is that this building had empty rooms, rooms
not designated in advance for any particular use.  This allowed us to
come up with our own ideas for the room-- or, better, when we had some
activity that needed a room, there was one available without a
months-long committee talking about it.  People and communities are
unpredictable.  Architects can't foresee every function people might
want to engage in and need space for.

What I took from living there:

* having activities in community is fine, but it's better when these are
integrated with the living spaces.  In this way they can more easily
become part of the day.  You might not be interesting in, say, quilting,
but if people are doing this while you're waiting for other people
(which inevitably happens in groups of more than one person), you might
try your hand at it.

* the pod was part of the path to private spaces, not a separate room.
You didn't need an excuse or even a reason to enter the pod.  Whether
you had all the time in the world or you were in a hurry, you could
still see what was going on there.  It wasn't like you had to open a
door and poke your nose in.  So the activities and your neighbors
weren't just close by, they were a part of your daily life.

* having to pass through a community space like this to get to private
areas kept unknown people from private areas and so provided a good
measure of security at no cost and no effort.

* these places were also a good way to find people and activities or for
them to find you-- without any special effort-- again, they were
integrated into your life.

All the above together enabled immediacy and spontaneity and was
comfortable with the unpredictable and so fostered rather than hindered
creativity and interaction.


"This world ain't big enough for the both of us,"
said the big noema to the little noema.

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