Cohousing is a neighbourhood design that combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living - it encourages community while maintaining the option for privacy.
Not to be confused with co-op’s cohousing uses the strata title ownership structure. To find out more about the difference between cohousing, co-op’s and conventional strata title click here.
Cohousing is based on private ownership of complete, self-contained homes centered around and focused on shared facilities (common house), which typically includes a kitchen, dining area, lounge, guest/caregiver suites, workshop, meeting spaces and other features the members may choose. Although each home has its own complete kitchen, shared dinners are typically available a few days each week at the common house for those who wish to participate.
It is also an alternative development model where the future residents participate in the planning and development so that it directly responds to their needs. The physical layout is designed to provide personal privacy as well as create opportunities for interaction with neighbours. Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer environmentally sensitive design with a pedestrian orientation and have documented lower vehicle use than conventional neighbourhoods.
The concept originated in Denmark about 50 years ago and is becoming popular in many countries. It was introduced to North America by two architects in 1988 and since that time approximately 160 cohousing communities have been completed (eleven of which are in BC), with numerous others in various stages of development.
The “Senior Cohousing Handbook – Second Edition” by Charles Durrett has inspired projects with a focus on the needs of an aging population.