For information about Vancouver Cohousing project or about cohousing in general, please start with these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Cohousing communities are collaborative neighborhoods created with a measure of ingenuity. They bring together the value of having private homes, with the benefits of more sustainable living. Residents actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhoods. They share common facilities and build and maintain good connections with neighbors. Cohousing provides innovative and sustainable answers to today’s environmental and social challenges.
By collaborating with architect Charles Durrett (McCamant & Durrett Architects), the Vancouver Cohousing group participated in the planning and design of their own housing development. These steps were then implemented by our team of professionals led by Eighth Avenue Development and Ankenman Marchand Architects
Along the way, our group has formed bonds that have become the basis for ongoing community growth and development.
The Vancouver Cohousing community is supported and sustained by the following five principles:
1. Collaborative and participatory processes
2. An architectural design that supports community
3. Private homes supplemented by common facilities
4. Resident-managed facilities
5. Non-hierarchical structures
In the late 1960s, a group of Danish families, dissatisfied with existing urban and suburban living options, decided to create their own resident-developed neighbourhood. This was created as an alternative to traditional housing models.
Desiring a community where residents knew their neighbours, and where people would look out for each other, they created “bofoellesskaber” – literally translated as “living communities.” Such communities increased safety, reduced the stresses of child care and cooking, and helped individuals to pursue their own goals while living in a supportive community. In addition, such communities reduced impact on the land and were built in environmentally sensitive and sustainable ways.
Cohousing was introduced in North America in the 1980s, by architects Charles Durrett and Katherine McCamant, who coined the term “cohousing” to describe this style of development. There are now more than 14 completed cohousing communities in Canada with another 5 in process and the United States had 150 complete and about 140 in various stages of planning and development.
People Who Live in Cohousing
Families who resonate with this sense of purpose find themselves at home within the Vancouver Cohousing community.
The 1997 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) study entitled “Planning Cohousing” reported:
“While the shared amenities are integral to cohousing, some believe privacy is more respected in cohousing communities than elsewhere. The idea of a shared kitchen and dining facilities does not stem from a notion that meals should be communal, but a recognition that sometimes communal meals are desirable and benefit everyone.”
There can be more privacy in cohousing because the amenity areas provide meeting places, play areas, guest rooms and work spaces, while the individual dwelling is a place of privacy and retreat.
Use of the common house strengthens relationships within the cohousing group and beyond.
These shared facilities support and sustain connection by supplementing individual dwellings with shared amenities that were chosen and designed with resident participation.
Shared meals are an important aspect of community life for social and practical reasons. These are optional, however, and people always have the choice of eating in their own homes.