Re: Re: BIG Co-housing. Who Loves It? Who Hates It?
From: Lion Kuntz (
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2006 16:58:43 -0800 (PST)

--- Dave and Diane wrote:

> Hi Lion and all the folks in coho-land,
> I went to your web site at
> and I must give you a lot of credit for thoroughly investigating the 
> structural and mechanical aspects of the complex. What I did not see,
> and what I would need to see before I would consider living in a 
> development of this nature, is the same amount of thought given to
> the social interactions of the residents as has been put into the
> building  structure itself. Example: If you had 100 families living
in this 
> complex, how would they make decisions? Would it be some type of 
> consensus process or would a management company run the place?

I spent 40 years gathering the experiences (so far) to design this,
including managing an apartment comples of 96 units, close to this size
of population occupancy.

It is my experience that some people have busy lives outside and don't
need to be bothered with minutia when they come home, that there are
others who have no outside lives and live through others and magnify
minutia to keep busy. Some people build ships that sail the seas, while
others build models of ships in bottles. Neither is right nor wrong --
both are valid ways to spend the hours between waking in the morning
and going to bed in the evening, taken by themselves in isolation as

The building scale I have proposed requires a professional building
staff and some full time permanent employees. There is ground floor
commercial space bringing in income to pay them without any necessary
requirement for Home-Owners Association (HOA) dues or fees. The
professional staff interfaces with the income-paying users of the
groundfloor space. Too many cooks spoil this broth.

CONFUCIUS SAY: When everbody sweeps outside their front door the whole
world is clean. But Confusius is wrong -- nobody sweeps the commons
under that plan.

Because there are high-tech utilities beyond anything commonly found in
buildings, there are technical skills which must be on call 24/7 and
somebody responsible to make those calls as the occasion requires. Some
conditions do not wait for a full HOA meeting -- responsibility must be
delegated to responsible parties.

HOA structures could be cohousing, co-op or condo, perhaps as segments
within the overall building (although I cannot imagine how that could
work well).

The building process requires a Sweat Equity involvement. Nobody can
pay a cash substitute. A lot of things will get worked out during that

Insurance requirements compell formal classes and training in safety
awareness and construction methods -- this is not optional, yet another
example of "propinquity propinks" in action. Even disabled people
contribute in meaningful ways the same as the able-bodied -- there are
plenty of desktop chores and paperwork and computer work to go around.

Some of what cohousing tries to achieve by dinners and meetings after
move-in day is already accomplished long before move-in day. Not
getting to know your neighbors until after you are already escounced
may not be the best strategy for community cohesiveness, as discussions
on work-requirements (and evaders) have hinted at.

> How would conflicts be resolved? How many common spaces and what
> type would  you have? Will the structure include consideration of
> design" which allows people of varying levels of physical ability to 
> participate? Has consideration been given to work requirements? Would
> the floor plans encourage different family types to live there, or 
> would they all be similar? How would you handle soundproofing, 
> particularly sound transmission through floors? Would people be 
> encouraged to interact socially or is the purpose of this building 
> simply to house a lot of people in the least environmentally damaging

The building design addresses many problems in one package. It deals
rationally with environmental impacts. 25% of the world's energy use
and pollution generation comes from 6% of the world's population.
Buildings in the USA consume 35% of the total national energy and turn
that into pollution. 35% of 25% equals 8.7% of the whole world's energy
use and pollution generation comes from 6% of the world population's
building stocks. For all that inefficiency and wastes, the buildings do
not provide better comfort, climate control, or satisfaction as
ecologically-compatible designs.

Obviously that is a problem which has to be addressed by every building
made from now onwards. When I was born there were 3,000,000,000 people
and no deadzones in the oceans. Now there are 6,000,000,000 and 150
deadzones in the oceans. These deadzones are traced right back to their
sources of bad sanitation technology and sociopathic farming methods to
input the food that ends up in those sewer pipe outlets.

Within the design constraints of reducing energy use by 75% without
loss of amenities or lowering living standards, this concept addresses
the social requirements of elegant living, affluent living, by
providing luxuries which cannot be afforded by lone-wolf redundant
systems wasteful community designs. People are held responsible for
everything they eat and the completely predictable consequences of
eating.  There is no "away" to flush downstream to -- somebody or
something already lives there.

It is an antisocial act to export part of a problem to another
community, another place, to have to deal with. The technical term for
this chronic antisocial hostile acting is "sociopathy". Screening by
communities to restrict sociopathy is incorporated in the community
process, which begins with home-owners participating in the building
process. Antisocial people by nature cannot do good for the greater
community benefit. They stick out like a sore thumb when it is the norm
for there to be participation for the common good.

The BTK killer was a cub scout leader and contributor at his church. A
closer look shows he could not have passed a close look, being an odd
duck -- his aberrent nature only survived scruitiny by taking on the
chores that kept him "contributing" in ways where he was most often not
under observation or close association with adults. It was a "wolf in
sheeps clothing" disguise while he ravenously planned murders. His type
will not be attracted where concealment is hard and exposure is easy.
Dinners and work rules are effective deterrents. Sweat Equity on top of
that adds another layer of deterrence.

Since the building(s) may be composed of locally available building
materials, some already onsite, the issue of soundproofing has many
dimensions. Most of us have been in hotels as an example where sounds
rarely enter the rooms or pass through walls. Partly it is building
materials which smother sounds, but part of it is mutual cognizance of
what constitutes excessive noise levels, and some form of enforcement
on  sound pollution violators. The cost of soundproofing gets
excessively expensive for ever decreasing increments of effectiveness.
100% total soundproofing is possible at costs most would not like to
pay. Some 98% of 88% sound baffling is possible at some lower costs.

When people live in neighborhoods where they have open windows for
ventilation and their neighbors have open windows, no soundproofing is
effective. You hear arguments, television and music systems. You may
hear car music amplification from three blocks away.

A building with a water reserve cistern has a unique kind of available
sound muffling. Fountains. The sounds of falling water is a type of
white noise that mutes other sounds very effectively. Some public
fountains, which place no demands on the greater environment for water
consumption and energy pollution to operate may be placed indoors as
well as outdoors. The solar-powered water-works provides for pumps
using only three cheap easily replaced valves and no other moving parts
for solid-state reliability and low-maintenance.

> --Diane Simpson
> = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
> On Thu, 23 Mar 2006, at 22:45:38 -0800 (PST), Lion Kuntz 
> <lionkuntz [at]> wrote:

> > The key points:
> > *** BIG (hectare, city block)
> > *** MIxed-Use, commercial space on ground floor
> > *** 100 families.

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Sincerely, Lion Kuntz
Santa Rosa, California, USA
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