Cohousing a natural for universal design

Cohousing is about community. It’s about creating a collection of homes in a way that emphasises community interaction. It aims to recapture the positive aspects of village life in a modern context. Matt Daly and Myfan Jordan say that cohousing is a natural for universal design. That’s because it offers an alternative to the inaccessible mass market housing currently available.

Cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1960s. The idea has spread to other countries, but has been slow to take off in Australia.

Graphic of cohousing showing houses, community garden, playground, pool, parking and the common house.

Cohousing groups begin by committing to land purchase and designing and building their homes. When established, members share in the running of the small community. For example, Women in Cohousing is a group of women aged 50 to 80 years. They purchased land in rural Victoria and will design a village of 30 units, a common house, workshop and gardens. Collaboration, sustainability, accessibility are key elements of their community.

The more established communities now have residents who are ageing. Consequently, more thought is being given to designing with accessibility in mind. Recent studies show that social isolation is an issue for all ages. Social interaction across the ages is a cornerstone of the cohousing model.

You can read more detail in Daly and Jordan’s short article, Cohousing: a ‘natural’ for universal design. There is also a reference to UTS research for cohousing for older people. A separate paper discusses three models of cohousing for older people.

In the video below, residents of two cohousing communities provide a personal view of cohousing. They explain how they work and the importance of having people of all ages living together. 8 minutes.

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