Initially, at the start of the housing design project, we were introduced to the Co-Housing (CH) model of living I was apprehensive about this model of living. It could be argued that student’s halls have a similar construct to CH. In the sense that we all had a bedroom, shared a communal kitchen/living-room, some halls had shared bathroom facilities. But the essence of cohousing, in my opinion, is that it’s a collective of different people living together, sharing certain aspects of living, getting to know and live with each other.
After an informative trip to Lancaster Co-housing (LCH) where we participated in one of the main aspects of CH cooking for your fellow residents. Although I didn’t cook my fellow classmates did whilst I discovered what Lancaster had to offer. As I still had some thoughts looming in my mind, what about people that don’t like cooking in a communal area another issue being turn taking for cooking as well.
I would state that if you was an introverted person, who wants to keep to themselves then they wouldn’t sign up to CH, to begin with. One of the major issues I have with CH is turn taking, as I feel in a way you are ‘forced’ to cook on a set day for everyone, what happens if you don’t feel like cooking or have a changed your mind about what you want to eat that day.
My final issue with LCH I found out during the trip, which affects meat eaters, was you aren’t allowed to eat meat in the dining room but you’re not allowed to prep any meat in the kitchen, this seemed illogical to devote meat eater. I would say that I did enjoy the vegan meal we had and enjoyed talking to residents whilst eating, I started to warm to the idea of a shared dining experience as the socialising aspect really made you feel like a community.
There was more to LCH than just sharing kitchen facilities, it had much more to offer, just outside the common house, most of the shared elements were along the central axis of the site, those being a mail box, food stores, guest house and kids play room. all this being strategically placed in the centre encourages daily encounters with other members of the community, for instance getting mail in the morning and pop into the kitchen to talk with another resident enjoying their breakfast. it’s these little daily social encounters that add to a community.
LCH also had interesting building on site which was the old mill, as part of the development they had to retain this building for commercial use. After a discussion with the residents, it was apparent that the flexible mixed workspace was very successful, as it was fully occupied by the second year housing a range of different business from, photography, film making, arts and crafts, fashion business. This really sold the idea of CH and LCH as it demonstrated the diversity of residents, their interests and occupations.
Figure 5 : Lancaster Co-Housing Mill (Lancaster Cohousing, 2013).
For more infromation on Lancaster Co-Housing check these links bellow.