The cohousing concept, pioneered in Denmark in the 1960s, was embraced quickly in Sweden and the Netherlands and continues to spread in popularity across numerous European countries. Among the early adopters, a number of cohousing communities are in the U.K., where Older Women’s Co-Housing (OWCH) has been active since 1998. Resources collected by OWCH and other groups in the U.K. are contributing to our knowledge about cohousing and give us valuable insights as well as “lessons learned”.
This helpful infographic from a U.K. insurance company provides a concise overview of cohousing and its growing popularity: Cohousing Infographic.
The future of cohousing looks bright. Our modern world, full of suburbs and urban sprawl, leaves many of us feeling isolated and alone. Cohousing is a way to connect with our neighbours, build a community, and bring people closer together. It may not be for everyone, but as cohousing catches on, it is certainly having a positive influence on the societies we live in.
The U.K. Cohousing Network has published a useful brochure about cohousing, offering everything from overall cohousing concepts to design challenges and examples of successful cohousing communities: UKCN brochure. Their web site (www.cohousing.org.uk) is also a recommended resource.
Great cohousing design can only support sustained community interaction. People have to invest in the process of building community to make it happen. Building the homes is the easy bit!
Kath Scanlon and Melissa Fernandez Arrigoitia’s Development of new cohousing: lessons from a London scheme for the over-50s is worthwhile reading.
Age, Home and Community: A Strategy for Housing Scotland’s Older People: 2012 – 2021 is an interesting and comprehensive resource, published by the Scottish Government in 2011. Not focused on cohousing (although it is recognized in the strategy – see page 72), the document nonetheless gives substantial context and firm commitments in the government’s vision and approach to housing and independence for seniors. More recently, the Welsh Government published Our Housing AGEnda: meeting the aspirations of older people in Wales and recognized cohousing as an important option for its current (aging) and future populations.
Viewing housing through a life course lens is crucial if we are to anticipate the next generation’s demands, needs and preferences for different choices.