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Ten different model projects coming from six European cities express a new generation of CoHousing, dealing with issues of affordability, participation, inclusion and neighborhood development.
Four visionary, not yet realized projects from different German cities show how ideas of accessible housing are even further being developed.
Four visionary strategies coming from a number of regions are showing how new community-led housing and neighborhood projects can be assisted by larger, non-profit-oriented development structures.
Feature articles explain both options and challenges regarding ownership and organizational structures, as well as various forms of cooperation.
Statements are included from a large number of housing experts from around the world, to illustrate the diversity of practices, strategies and visions.
In what ways can cohousing encourage communication, exchange and interaction within housing projects and beyond their borders?
In CoHousing neighborhoods, we build relationships with our neighbors by working together on practical matters, whether that is a garden workday or making dinner. As we work together, we build trust. Over time, we find our own edges softening, gaining greater empathy for each other. This empathy accompanies us in the rest of our lives, opening our hearts to others. Living in community teaches us to listen more carefully to what others have to share. When our communities are truly successful, they give us energy and support to engage actively in the larger civil society to empathetically and respectfully address the challenges of the human condition.
What advantages does community-based, self-determined housing offer with respect to current challenges in an urban society becoming ever more diverse?
Hopefully, the “me first” society is passing. It seems people are now realizing the social, ecological and economic benefits of living with others. What makes community attractive depends on the respective ages. For students: it’s a mutually supportive transition away from living with parents. For young parents: it’s great for the children. For older people: this helps to counter loneliness. For people with modest incomes: it’s the only way to reside in expensive city centers. Altogether, collaborative projects help empower citizens to be more active in how they live.
What are the future perspectives and challenges for a further developement as well as an upscaling of inclusive CoHousing initiatives?
Self-organized housing can not be a substitute for an inclusive housing policy, but it can be a complement. Many projects in Vienna do this with internal solidarity funds and mutual support, with cross-subsidized, affordable dwellings, as well as with refugee and starter apartments. Some projects are specifically aimed at disadvantaged groups. Future perspectives are good if solutions for the most important challenges are found, such as a particularly strong middle-class orientation of urban housing projects. This will always be part of such projects, but an attempt should be made to go beyond this social and income group, and thus achieve a significance for society as a whole.
How can housing projects adequately deal with human diversity and develop innovative solutions for a sustainable, intergenerational and inclusive coexistence in mixed neighborhood?
Yes, urban neighborhoods are getting really crowded, but, if we stop looking at this density as an obstacle and begin to see how it can enable collaboration, things will get interesting. And, newly built housing communities are not enough. It is important to work on our existing housing and ask ourselves how to transform what we already have into CoHousing. To meet this challenge, we have to develop physical as well as virtual community spaces, and prepare professionals in new ways to facilitate and manage these spaces. This is the best guarantee to offer the advantages of CoHousing to people with different needs and cultural backgrounds.
We hope this book, with its range of ideas and examples, provides inspiration for many new projects and strategies.
Dr. Michael LaFond