Shared housing, or co-housing, is being added to the list of developments in urban planning. Current ecological concerns have given new life to this 70s concept. Co-housing means sharing resources and certain decisions to improve co-living conditions. This lifestyle is a combination of private homeownership and certain shared facilities. 

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Ground-breaking and popular in northern Europe

Co-housing is a mode of shared housing created fifty years ago in Denmark. Jan Gudmand-Hoyer, the concept’s founding architect, defines it as a community life project in a more practical and social environment than what has traditionally existed. 

Each resident has his or her own home and benefits from shared community space. Each project is characterised by a participative process and decisions are mostly made by consensus. 

The projects first blossomed in northern Europe. Then, thanks to two American architecs who studied in Denmark, the concept took root in the US towards the end of the 80s.

Co-living for improved well-being

Co-housing provides pragmatic solutions to economic and societal needs. For example, it generates cost and energy savings through sharing certain resources and allows residents to benefit from shared services daily. 

Furthermore, in an increasingly progressive and connected society, where part of the population suffers from loneliness, co-living fosters positive social interaction (1). Some studies report that this type of housing based on inclusiveness and mutual help creates a feeling of security, strong social ties, and improved quality of life (2). Quite a few co-housing projects are akin to intergenerational communities where people benefit from being connected with each other and where a more sustainable type of living based on nature and inclusion flourishes.

Finding the middle ground…

Co-housing is based primarily on cooperation, and pooled time and resources. Co-living and inclusiveness are the concept’s watchwords. Nevertheless, sharing sometimes means making concessions. Even though clearly not everyone can agree on all topics, it is better to share a common set of values and beliefs with your co-habitants.

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Article updated on 19/10/22