Re: Micro Living Units -- Affordable
From: Wendy Willbanks Wiesner (
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2014 15:37:29 -0800 (PST)
This discussion brings to mind the efforts of former COHO US Executive
Director Oz Ragland to define a new shared housing model called
Cohouseholding (

As succinctly defined on the Berkeley Cohousing website (kudos, Raines!):

"Unlike the Cohousing model (multiple private homes sharing common
facilities), Cohouseholding focuses on unrelated adults who share a single
dwelling - creating shared households".

To make this model truly workable, Oz has factored in some very practical
considerations.  For example, when sharing a kitchen, often the
mission-critical bottleneck is found at the sink.

Planning for two sinks in a shared kitchen--which at the outset might seem
like an "American Way" luxury--might just be the key to long term harmony
and efficiency in a shared living situation.

Bathrooms are another area where this kind of strategic thinking has been
applied.  As a female, I unabashedly admit that my requirements here--both
in terms of optimal space and time allotted--are much different than my
husband's.  Again, for the sake of harmony and efficiency, more than one
bathroom might not be wanton excess (for some people, but not necessarily

Point is, creating environments that naturally foster the best in us--both
as individuals and groups--is a key element of any affordable living
strategy, no matter what the housing type.  If the physical situation is
untenable, or just plain drives us crazy, we'll most likely have to change
it at some point, and there will be costs involved.

To wit:  in one episode of Tiny House Nation, there was not enough room in
this home's bedroom for Dad to stretch out his arms out and put on a dress
shirt.  If a person has to either go in the kitchen or outside to put on
his/her clothes, this is most probably a problem.  Had this fellow been a
few inches shorter, all would have been fine.

Ultimate question in my opinion is this:  how can the physical environment,
whether a Tiny House, shared housing, Cohouseholding or Cohousing (in the
most traditional sense), buttress and/or enhance the well-being of its

One of the many brilliant aspects of Cohousing is that it addresses this
question on a macro or community/neighborhood level, and to a certain
extent on the micro level (do we need/want a washer and dryer in every
unit, or not?).

Deeper shared living situations and Tiny Houses require that we put even
greater thought into the micro-level decisions (which the Cohouseholding
model has done), and that we think in service of built environments that
will be designed (or redesigned) from the outset to bring out the best in
ourselves and others.

The reward is living our lives more affordably today--and tomorrow.


Wendy Willbanks Wiesner
Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Partnerships for Affordable Cohousing
Denver, CO

On Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 6:52 AM, Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> wrote:

> On 22 Oct 2014 R Philip Dowds wrote:
> > Who says every individual or couple needs a private bathroom or
> > kitchen?  Well, we all do, that's the American way.
> On 4 Nov 2014 Sharon Villines wrote:
> > There is also room of micro units for young people.
> > The 20-somethings.
> These two thoughts reminded me of where my 20-something son lived
> for a year while in college. It was a complex of units that had
> 4 bedrooms around a kitchen,dining/living room, laundry
> and 2 bathrooms.  It had individual leases for each bedroom tho I
> think many units were shared by people who knew each other before
> sharing a unit.
> All bedrooms have a large closet. (It also has 4 bedroom/4
> bathroom and 2 bedroom/2 bathroom variants.)  See floor plans
> at:
> I also remember an architect friend telling me years ago about his
> inovation in more conventional apartments that had several large
> bedrooms (rather than a 'master" bedroom with smaller bedrooms).
> Inclusion of a unit intended to be shared might be an attractive
> option of some.
> Fred
> --
> Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411  USA        (near north Mpls)
>      Email:        fholson at      612-588-9532
> My Link Pg:         My org:
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