Private Unit Design - a cost/benefit question
From: Chris ScottHanson (chriscohousingresources.com)
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 10:30:11 -0700 (MST)
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Let me pose a question to all of you out there.  (How many are subscribing
to this list, anyway, Fred?)

What would happen if we eliminated resident participation in the private
unit design process from the way we typically do cohousing?

I would propose that the "ideal design process for cohousing" might
purposefully exclude resident participation in the design of the private
units.  In doing so, members could as individuals, as a family and as a
community focus their complete attention of the process of building
community.  They could focus the design effort, and all their energy on the
common house and on the site planning, where I think the focus really ought
to be. =20

For those of you have have been through the cohousing design process before=
,
imagine what it would have been like if you didn't have the distraction of
the private unit design while you were trying to design your community.
Site planning and common house design are SO important, and so important to
do TOGETHER.

How many people now living in three bedroom units in cohousing actually
helped design the unit they are now living in?

It would be good to have some real numbers here.   In my experience, too
much of the time those who participate in the design of the three bedroom
units (as an example) end up either not living in the community at all, or
they move down to a two bedroom unit before completion of the project.  In
only one case that I know of did someone move up to a larger unit.

Sadly, sometimes this is because they have asked for more than they can
afford and financial reality sets in.  Interestingly, sometimes it seems to
be because the family discovers a new motivation to have a lower mortgage,
as quality of life issues begin to really matter.  Sometimes family
situations simply change.

Why not let go of this romantic private unit design myth?

Most people, the vast majority of people, never live in architect designed
homes anyway, at any time in their lives.  Why is it that we assume that
when we engage the cohousing process, with the stated intent to build
community, that we also assume that we should engage the custom home design
process for the first time in our lives.  This has always puzzled me.

I don't think the cost benefit analysis works.  I don't think the cost of
private unit design... the economic, social, community, and emotional
costs...  provides us as individual households with anything close to the
benefit that we romantically imagine.  It certainly does nothing positive
for the community.  In fact, it can be argued that it is often destructive.

In simple terms, I think a cohousing architecture team should design the
private units using the well documented principals of cohousing private uni=
t
design.  Kitchens on the pedestrian street, private spaces away from the
pedestrian street, etc.  Residents should choose to "stay out of the way" I
think, and I think the result will be better private unit designs.  Less
"design by committee" with the compromises that entails.  I think you might
get less of a camel to live in in the end.

In conclusion...

I have found that this is an unpopular idea, at least with most architects =
I
have talked to.  And yet, I think this may reflect the "IDEAL" cohousing
design process, if there is such a thing.  This may be the best way to
effectively create the most affordable, most cost effective, and the most
community minded cohousing design process.

I am I crazy?  Is it possible to let go of this romantic notion?

What do you think?=20

I would really like to know.


Chris ScottHanson

Cohousing Resources, LLC
Ecovillage, Cohousing & Sustainable Communities
Development and Consulting

email:          Chris [at] CohousingResources.com
web site:      http://www.CohousingResources.com

9813 NE Murden Cove Dr.
Bainbridge Island, WA  98110

(206)842-9160
(206)842-9203 FAX
(206)369-7755 Cell=20

Author of:=20

The Cohousing Handbook,
MAKING A PLACE FOR COMMUNITY

=A91996 Hartley & Marks Publishers, Vancouver BC
Check our website for ordering information at
http://www.cohousingresources.com/Handbook.htm

"A must read for anyone ready to move beyond talk."






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<TITLE>Private Unit Design - a cost/benefit question</TITLE>
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Let me pose a question to all of you out there. &nbsp;(How many are subscri=
bing to this list, anyway, Fred?)<BR>
<BR>
<FONT COLOR=3D"#008000"><B>What would happen if we eliminated resident partic=
ipation in the private unit design process from the way we typically do coho=
using?<BR>
</B></FONT><BR>
I would propose that the &quot;ideal design process for cohousing&quot; mig=
ht purposefully exclude resident participation in the design of the private =
units. &nbsp;In doing so, members could as individuals, as a family and as a=
 community focus their complete attention of the process of building communi=
ty. &nbsp;They could focus the design effort, and all their energy on the co=
mmon house and on the site planning, where I think the focus really ought to=
 be. &nbsp;<BR>
<BR>
For those of you have have been through the cohousing design process before=
, imagine what it would have been like if you didn't have the distraction of=
 the private unit design while you were trying to design your community. &nb=
sp;Site planning and common house design are SO important, and so important =
to do TOGETHER.<BR>
<BR>
<FONT COLOR=3D"#008000"><B>How many people now living in three bedroom units =
in cohousing actually helped design the unit they are now living in?</B> <BR=
>
</FONT><BR>
It would be good to have some real numbers here. &nbsp;&nbsp;In my experien=
ce, too much of the time those who participate in the design of the three be=
droom units (as an example) end up either not living in the community at all=
, or they move down to a two bedroom unit before completion of the project. =
&nbsp;In only one case that I know of did someone move up to a larger unit. =
&nbsp;<BR>
<BR>
Sadly, sometimes this is because they have asked for more than they can aff=
ord and financial reality sets in. &nbsp;Interestingly, sometimes it seems t=
o be because the family discovers a new motivation to have a lower mortgage,=
 as quality of life issues begin to really matter. &nbsp;Sometimes family si=
tuations simply change.<BR>
<BR>
<FONT COLOR=3D"#008000"><B>Why not let go of this romantic private unit desig=
n myth? &nbsp;<BR>
</B></FONT><BR>
Most people, the vast majority of people, never live in architect designed =
homes anyway, at any time in their lives. &nbsp;Why is it that we assume tha=
t when we engage the cohousing process, with the stated intent to build comm=
unity, that we also assume that we should engage the custom home design proc=
ess for the first time in our lives. &nbsp;This has always puzzled me. &nbsp=
;<BR>
<BR>
I don't think the cost benefit analysis works. &nbsp;I don't think the cost=
 of private unit design... the economic, social, community, and emotional co=
sts... &nbsp;provides us as individual households with anything close to the=
 benefit that we romantically imagine. &nbsp;It certainly does nothing posit=
ive for the community. &nbsp;In fact, it can be argued that it is often dest=
ructive.<BR>
<BR>
In simple terms, I think a cohousing architecture team should design the pr=
ivate units using the well documented principals of cohousing private unit d=
esign. &nbsp;Kitchens on the pedestrian street, private spaces away from the=
 pedestrian street, etc. &nbsp;Residents should choose to &quot;stay out of =
the way&quot; I think, and I think the result will be better private unit de=
signs. &nbsp;Less &quot;design by committee&quot; with the compromises that =
entails. &nbsp;I think you might get less of a camel to live in in the end.<=
BR>
<BR>
In conclusion...<BR>
<BR>
I have found that this is an unpopular idea, at least with most architects =
I have talked to. &nbsp;And yet, I think this may reflect the &quot;IDEAL&qu=
ot; cohousing design process, if there is such a thing. &nbsp;This may be th=
e best way to effectively create the most affordable, most cost effective, a=
nd the most community minded cohousing design process. &nbsp;<BR>
<BR>
I am I crazy? &nbsp;Is it possible to let go of this romantic notion?<BR>
<BR>
<FONT COLOR=3D"#008000"><B>What do you think?</B></FONT> &nbsp;<BR>
<BR>
I would really like to know.<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
<FONT SIZE=3D"5"><FONT FACE=3D"Graphite Light"><I>Chris ScottHanson<BR>
</I></FONT></FONT><BR>
<H2>Cohousing Resources, LLC<BR>
</H2>Ecovillage, Cohousing &amp; Sustainable Communities<BR>
Development and Consulting<BR>
<BR>
email: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<FONT COLOR=3D"#=
0000FF"><B><U>Chris [at] CohousingResources.com<BR>
</U></B></FONT>web site: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<FONT COLOR=3D"#0000FF=
"><B><U>http://www.CohousingResources.com<BR>
</U></B></FONT><BR>
9813 NE Murden Cove Dr.<BR>
Bainbridge Island, WA &nbsp;98110<BR>
<BR>
(206)842-9160<BR>
(206)842-9203 FAX<BR>
(206)369-7755 Cell <BR>
<BR>
Author of: <BR>
<BR>
<FONT SIZE=3D"5"><I>The Cohousing Handbook</I></FONT><I>, <BR>
MAKING A PLACE FOR COMMUNITY<BR>
</I><BR>
=A91996 Hartley &amp; Marks Publishers, Vancouver BC<BR>
Check our website for ordering information at<BR>
<FONT COLOR=3D"#0000FF"><U>http://www.cohousingresources.com/Handbook.htm<BR>
</U></FONT><BR>
&quot;A must read for anyone ready to move beyond talk.&quot;<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
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