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A cohousing settlement is a planned community consisting of private apartments or houses, which are supplemented by extensive communal facilities . A cohousing settlement is owned by the residents and is jointly planned and managed with the common goal of promoting interaction with neighbors. Community facilities usually include large kitchens and dining rooms where residents can take turns cooking for the community. Other communal facilities can include laundry rooms , daycare centers , offices , internet cafes , home theaters , libraries , workshops and fitness studios .

Cohousing settlements encourage collective social activities and day-to-day planning for the benefit of the entire community. In addition, the municipality's resource planning can have significant economic and environmental benefits.

Origin of cohousing

The modern principles of cohousing come from Denmark and were developed and implemented in the 1960s by groups of families who were dissatisfied with the existing forms of building and living and the poor community there. There are now many cohousing settlements in Denmark and other countries in Northern Europe.

Cohousing was introduced in North America by two architects, Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett, who studied architecture in Denmark, learned about cohousing projects and wrote a book about it. In the USA and Canada there are now more than 150 functioning cohousing projects (in the narrower sense) and over 100 more in the planning or development phase. There are also such projects in Austria, Australia, England and other parts of the world, in Germany there are no cohousing projects in the narrower sense, there are first projects in development (Bonn, Düsseldorf, Düren).

Definitions and characteristics of cohousing

Cohousing is used to describe a wide range of innovative residential projects. The diversity of the so-called settlements occasionally makes it difficult to look at the very own concerns of cohousing (especially sustainable community building). Therefore, here are some defining criteria of the term.

A commonly used definition of cohousing (suggested by the authors of the term) includes at least four features:

  • Participation principle: Cohousing communities are formed, planned and developed with the active participation of the future residents.
  • Intended Community: As one of several factors in creating a strong community awareness, the architecture is geared towards promoting social contacts as much as possible.
  • Generous communal facilities: These complement and expand the individual residential units in the social and practical everyday area and include at least one communal house with communal kitchen and dining area as well as various infrastructure (communal washing machines and tumble dryers, children's play rooms, hobby rooms and much more).
  • Self-administration: The residents are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the residential complex (although the practical implementation of this task can also be delegated).

Two other points are often taken for granted, but should be mentioned here expressly:

  • Non-hierarchical structure: The residents take on responsible positions in the community, but general decisions are made by the general public.
  • Individual Income and Finances: Each household is financially independent from the community.

The clearest distinguishing feature from other innovative forms of living are the communal facilities mentioned in point 3. They are postulated not only in the social, but also and especially in the practical, everyday area. It is about the possibility of delegating household tasks from the individual living area in order to be able to do them more efficiently in a jointly organized form. This makes it clear that cohousing in the real sense is about a community that is stable or even growing in terms of its strength and dynamism, because the type and scope of community facilities, but also the extent of their use, have a decisive influence on the sustainable development and strengthening of the community.

Because of the different social effects, it makes sense to differentiate cohousings with high demands on community building from those where this intention is not planned or implemented so consistently.

Cohousing in the narrower sense always realizes the rationalization and simplification of everyday chores and household tasks. As a result, significant savings in the individual time and money required for these activities can and should be achieved, which of course also requires the existence and appropriate use of suitable communal facilities. The extent of these savings is an extremely important factor for the long-term success of an intended community formation (by means of cohousing).

With cohousing in the broader sense , the communal facilities (if any) are predominantly or exclusively leisure-oriented. A communal kitchen does not exist or is not used, saving time and money by doing household chores together do not play a significant role.

See also


  • Dolores Hayden: Redesigning the American Dream. The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. WW Norton & Company, New York NY et al. 1984, ISBN 0-393-01779-6 (Revised and expanded edition. Ibid. 2002, ISBN 0-393-73094-8 ), ( excerpt ).
  • id22: Institute for Creative Sustainability: experimentcity (ed.): CoHousing Cultures. Handbook for self-organized, communal and sustainable living. JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86859-148-4 .
  • Kathryn McCamant, Charles R. Durrett: Cohousing. A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. 2nd Edition. Ten Speed ​​Press, Berkeley CA 1994, ISBN 0-89815-539-8 .
  • Elisabeth Millonig, Helmut Deubner, Elmar Brugger, Ingo Kreyer, Toni Matosic, Raimund Gutmann, Wilfried Posch: Evaluation of the cohousing form of living using the example of existing projects in Lower Austria. Housing research Lower Austria, St. Pölten 2010.
  • Chris Scotthanson, Kelly Schotthanson: The Cohousing Handbook. Building a place for community. New Society Publishers, New York NY 2004, ISBN 0-86571-517-3 .
  • Kathryn McCamant, Charles Durrett: Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities. New Society Publishers, 2011, ISBN 0-86571-672-2 .

Web links

Commons : Cohousing  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Kathryn McCamant, Charles R. Durrett: Cohousing. A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. 2nd Edition. Ten Speed ​​Press, Berkeley CA 1994, ISBN 0-89815-539-8 .
  2. Kathryn McCamant, Charles R. Durrett: Cohousing. A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. 2nd Edition. Ten Speed ​​Press, Berkeley CA 1994, ISBN 0-89815-539-8 . P. 38