Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space. Residents come together to manage their community, share activities, and regularly eat together.
Most cohousing communities have a common house, with shared facilities such as cooking and dining spaces, meeting and playing areas, laundries and guest rooms. This may mean that the private dwellings are smaller as residents also have the benefit of the common facilities. Shared outside space for gardens, childrens’ play, parties and food growing often feature in a cohousing project.
The five principles of cohousing communities
The community is integral to the design of the cohousing scheme
The founding members contribute significantly to the design of the cohousing scheme and take an active role in delivery.
Cohousing schemes include both the provision of private and common facilities
A cohousing scheme will usually have a common buildings and areas to encourage a feeling of community for its residents and guests. The shared facilities usually include kitchens, dining spaces, meeting zones, playing areas, laundries and guest rooms. This may mean that the private dwellings are smaller as residents also have the benefit of the common facilities.
The size and scale of a scheme is appropriate to support community dynamics
By restricting the size of development a community will benefit from an easy informal communal environment. A standard size for a cohousing scheme would usually be between 10 and 40 households. Where possible, design is used to encourage social interaction, for example by keeping cars to the periphery and putting a common house in centre of the site. Many communities eat together regularly, and so the common house is designed with large dining facilities.
Cohousing embeds collective resident control and stewardship into its legal form and decision making
Residents manage their own community, looking after the maintenance and development of it, running the finances, tending the gardens, organising shared activities. The community is governed in a non-hierarchical way, often using consensus decision making. All adult residents are encouraged to take part in decision making; some communities also require residents to undertake a set number of hours work for the community.
Cohousing communities are both inclusive and part of the wider community
Cohousing communities actively encourage open membership. People wishing to join a group will need to work out if cohousing is right for them. Cohousing groups often host wider community activities in the shared space and common house.