At Narara Ecovillage, we have triple bottom line aspirations. We wish to raise the bar in the areas of Social, Environmental and Economic sustainability. As a part of our Social sustainability, we aim to be a Cohousing community. We focus on creating social interactions and connections that foster strong community fabric. In addition to layout of neighbourhoods, footpaths, common outdoor spaces and gardens to encourage connections of residents, other shared facilities and amenities are encouraged, including a Common House(s).
A Common House may have a semi-commercial kitchen and large dining and living space, children’s play area, teen’s room, laundry, workshop, guest rooms, entertainment rooms, sewing room… These are planned in conjunction with surrounding households and are ideally passed on the way to and from homes.
Apart from the social benefits, cohousing offers economic benefits in that individual living spaces can be smaller and more affordable and environmental benefits of smaller human footprints, given that many facilities are shared within the group. These are key concepts included in our project’s design.
Cohousing began in Denmark during the mid 1960’s. It was introduced to the US in 1980’s by Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant’s book: Creating Cohousing Building Sustainable Communities
In addition, Charles Durrett’s cohousing sustainable research shows
- 50 to 75% less energy for heating/cooling
- 40% smaller houses on av.
- Cohousing neighbourhoods can occupy less than half as much land as new subdivisions
- Cohousers generally drive less or participate in car sharing schemes
- ‘A cohousing community adds to the social fabric of an area helping make it safer, more liveable and more enjoyable’
The Common Characteristics
- Participatory process educative, collaborative improves the design AND gives a strong sense of emotional ownership and pride
- Design that facilitates community
- Extensive Common facilities
- Complete resident management
- Non-hierarchal structure
- Separate income sources