Cohousing is the specific name of a type of collaborative in which people eschew the alienation of typical subdivisions in favor of true community lifestyles. In some ways, they hark back to the ideas of a kibbutz, a co-op, or commune, but in a more modern, Euro-style, not-so-hippy way. In co-housing, people keep private dwellings with a kitchen, living and dining rooms, and other personal spaces, but they share many common facilities. For example, shared facilities might include a bigger dining room that can accommodate large numbers of guests, communal kitchens, lounge areas, meeting rooms, recreation facilities, a library, and workshops. In this way, the concept of cohousing functions as a product service system...
Like a co-op, cohousing communities are often designed and managed by residents in order to best suit their needs. But these are "intentional neighborhoods," where people consciously commit to living as a community.
The ideas behind cohousing include a few standard principles, including resident participation in design and master planning, physical design that specifically refers to communal usage and social interaction, communal facilities, resident management, non-hierarchal structure and decision-making, and no shared economic reliance (that last part making it decidedly unlike a commune—phew.)
The idea of cohousing started up in Denmark in the late 1960's, but is beginning to appear in North America. According to the Cohousing Association of the United States (Coho/US) Web site, there are now more than a hundred cohousing communities completed or in development across the United States and Canada. Reader-tipster Peter Yao points out one near his home in Somerville, Mass. that seems to be heading in a particularly successful direction. The Davis Square Cohousing project not only adheres to the values of cohousing, it's a also a green residential building in an urban setting (total bonus points!), where communal cooking, shared garden and compost, shared cars, intergenerational living, and space efficiency are all in effect. Thanks for the tip Peter! ::Coho/US ::Davis Square Cohousing [by MO]