Re: "Neighborhood" Cohousing or "Retrofit" Cohousing
From: Chris ScottHanson (
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 10:15:39 -0800 (PST)
What about...  Adaptive reuse cohousing neighborhood?

Chris ScottHanson

> On Dec 11, 2013, at 9:31 AM, Kathryn McCamant <kmccamant [at] 
>> wrote:
> Interesting discussion.
> I don't think Neighborhood Cohousing makes sense to distinguish "retrofit"
> from other newly built cohousing neighborhoods. As others have mentioned,
> they are all based creating a more collaborative neighborhood. I have been
> trying to change my own language to say cohousing neighborhoods generally,
> instead of cohousing communities... I think the term neighborhood makes it
> clearer that people have individual homes, as opposed to a shared house or
> cohome...
> Not sure what the best term is... We are use to having to define cohousing
> when we use it. I expect that just about any term we use to distinguish
> retrofit cohousing will also need ongoing defining for many people. I've
> been using the term retrofit cohousing for decades and find it works fine,
> or at least as well as any term for a concept most people still can't
> imagine. 
> Katie 
> -- 
> Kathryn McCamant, President, Architect
> CoHousing Partners, LLC
> 241 Commercial Street
> Nevada City, CA 95959
> T.530.478.1970  C.916.798.4755
>> On 12/8/13 8:36 AM, "Kevin Wolf" <kevin [at]> wrote:
>> Thanks Ann and Diana for chiming in.
>> It seems most build choosing is a subset of the neighborhood and has a
>> pretty specific footprint that sometimes grows by adding neighboring
>> houses
>> but most often it doesn't.  One real world experience from N Street
>> Cohousing is that if we had thought of ourselves as a community that could
>> incorporated non-contiguous houses in the neighborhood from the start, we
>> would have grown faster and not lost as many members who left the
>> community
>> because there weren't any contiguous houses.  Having the goal be part of
>> the name has its benefits.
>> The names "Evolving Cohousing" and "Organic Cohousing" have advantages as
>> well and could work as well.  I don't think Infiltrated Cohousing or "In
>> Place Cohousing" work as they don't express as clearly the vision or the
>> method by which this type of cohousing differs from from "built"
>> cohousing.
>> Kevin
>>> On Sun, Dec 8, 2013 at 2:33 PM, Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]> 
>>> wrote:
>>> Hi Kevin!
>>> I don't know what the term should be to describe cohousing that starts
>>> with an existing neighborhood but I welcome the discussion.  I, too,
>>> have
>>> often found "retrofit" to be a confusing term.
>>> Thanks for bringing this discussion to the list.
>>> Best --
>>> Ann Zabaldo
>>> Takoma Village Cohousing
>>> Washington, DC
>>> Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
>>> Falls Church VA
>>> 703-688-2646
>>>> On Dec 8, 2013, at 3:57 AM, Kevin Wolf wrote:
>>>> Hi Cohousing Activists,
>>>> I just finished speaking at the UK Cohousing Network's special
>>> conference
>>>> on Retrofit Cohousing.  They invited me because N Street Cohousing is
>>> a
>>>> premier example of how existing homes can be converted over time into
>>> a
>>>> vibrant cohousing community.  We have grown to 20+ houses and around
>>> 60
>>>> adults in the 25 years we have considered ourselves a cohousing
>>> community.
>>>> One thing that came out of this excellent event is the awareness that
>>> there
>>>> are problems with the word "retrofit" to describe what N Street and
>>> other
>>>> similar types of communities are doing.  We found out that people did
>>> not
>>>> attend because they thought it was about retrofiting existing
>>> buildings
>>>> into built choosing, similar to Doyle Street and Swans Market
>>> Cohousing
>>>> here in CA.
>>>> The word retrofit also doesn't describe the many ways in which "non
>>> built"
>>>> cohousing can develop and evolve.  "Built" cohousing is defined as all
>>> the
>>>> units coming on line more or less at the same time as one project.
>>>> One of the speakers at the UK conference described her group's effort
>>> to
>>>> buy homes in an inexpensive neighbourhood near Cardiff and evolve that
>>> into
>>>> cohousing in the years to come. Few of the members would have
>>> contiguous
>>>> homes. They'd like to buy a home near the entrance to the
>>> neighbourhood
>>> and
>>>> convert it into a common house with possible use as a cafe during the
>>> day
>>>> to help pay for it. It might also be rented out for non members to
>>> use as
>>>> well.  It is a different strategy to achieve the same goals as all of
>>> us
>>>> want to achieve in our cohousing communities.  In my opinion, the
>>> goals
>>> we
>>>> are pursuing are more important than the specific means by which we
>>> achieve
>>>> them, and the core elements of a cohousing community are a common
>>> house
>>> and
>>>> the gifting of our time cooking meals for each other.
>>>> So after the conference a few of us met for dinner and came up with a
>>> new
>>>> proposed word to describe the type of cohousing the grows over time
>>> and
>>> is
>>>> not built all at once - Neighborhood Cohousing.    We considered words
>>> like
>>>> Evolving Cohousing or   Starting Small Cohousing but like the
>>> robustness
>>> of
>>>> the word Neighborhood and all the potential in it.
>>>> By the way, N Street member houses have been spreading out over our
>>>> neighborhood with five of them no longer being contiguous and one of
>>> them
>>>> at least a block away, and a long time Friend of the Community (one of
>>> our
>>>> FOCers) lives a few blocks away.
>>>> We'd like to spark a discussion with the U.S cohousing community on
>>> whether
>>>> we should change from the word Retrofit to Neighborhood or another
>>> word
>>> to
>>>> define N Street types of cohousing from communities as being different
>>> from
>>>> cohousing communities that are built all at once from retrofitted old
>>>> buildings.
>>>> Thank you for weighing in.
>>>> Kevin
>>>> N Street Cohousing co-founder
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