Re: question about getting ready for common house design
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2006 08:44:05 -0700 (PDT)
This applies to all sorts of design questions, not just common houses. 

Spend time in your own house, in other people's spaces, in other
community's common houses, notice what you like, don't like, what works,
what doesn't work. Carry a tape measure around and measure things. Take
notes. What widths of paths feel cozy, feel too tight, feel too big?
What does a space sound like when it's empty, when it's full of people
eating, etc.? 

Hold your ideas/wants/desires lightly.

Most of us have no idea as to what actual distances are. I remember a
big "aha!" when Katie took a tape measure out into a field and had us
all stand various distances apart to really see how far 10,20,30 feet
really was. 

It's also easy to have all sorts of lofty ideas that don't translate
well into reality. For example, our community was big on the idea of our
site being open to the rest of the town, didn't want to be a gated
community, etc. So no fences. Well, now we are adding fences all over
the place for various security reasons, to keep kids & dogs out of the
highway, to keep weirdos from the bar next door wandering in, etc. We
wanted big, open, connected spaces in our common house...and the reality
is that the sound carries so much that despite their size, you can't
have two separate meetings in the dining and living rooms (and I now
long for a wall between them). 

Another thing is to really think practically about what you actually DO
do, not what you ideally think you MIGHT do, in your common spaces. It's
easy to get into these discussion about "oh wouldn't it be cool to have
a pottery studio!" but if nobody in your group actually currently does
pottery, how likely are you to actually use it? 

All that said, I don't know that you really need to worry about prep in
the next few weeks, Katie & Chuck's workshops are pretty thorough.

Eris Weaver
FrogSong (Cotati, CA) where we are about to celebrate Hearth Day (our
community birthday) - three years old!

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