Cohousing is a type of intentional, collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhoods. It provides the privacy we each need within the community we all seek. In choosing to live here, we consciously commit to being active participants in the life of the community. Working with our neighbors to care for our common property and to advance the common good fosters meaningful relationships built on cooperation, respect, trust and support.
Our community is located at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Belfast and consists of thirty-six individual units configured as duplexes, triplexes, and a quad arranged around a large common green. A pedestrian path winds through the heart of the community, providing a safe space for neighbors to stroll and children to play. The neighborhood’s layout provides for both individual space and casual social interaction. The houses contain all the features of conventional homes, but because we also have access to extensive common facilities they feel “bigger than they are.”
The common house is the social center of community life. We have a large dining room and kitchen, a children’s room, two guest suites, office space, a laundry, a root cellar, and several adjunct spaces used for meetings or just lounging about.
The concept of bofællesskab
(living community) originated in Denmark in the 60’s and was promoted the U.S. by architects Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett in the early 1980’s. The idea has taken hold, expanding beyond Denmark into the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, and elsewhere. There are now hundreds of cohousing communities worldwide.
In a cohousing community, you know who lives six houses down because you eat common meals together, decide how to allocate homeowners’ dues together, and gratefully accept a ride from them when your car is in the shop. You trust them enough to leave your 4-year-old with them. You listen to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree with them, and you sense that you, too, are heard. Cohousing strives to create a village of all ages where neighbors know and support each other.
Cohousing residents generally aspire to “improve the world, one neighborhood at a time.” Cohousing communities are places where people work together to enrich their lives and improve their surroundings.
Cohousing provides solutions for many of contemporary society’s challenges:
- Creating Community — Humans thrive when in close physical and emotional proximity to others; when it comes to quality of life and good health, relationships are paramount.
- Building Sustainability — Energy costs are reduced with cohousing’s environmentally friendly structures, shared resources, and sustainable approach.
- Enhancing Life — Sharing challenges – from preparing food, to ensuring children and elders are cared for, to meeting the demands of household chores – yields a more secure and relaxed life. Sharing delights — of conversation, meals, and milestones — yields a more enjoyable life.
Content on this page is excerpted from Wikipedia and from the Cohousing Association of America.