An example of a good neighborhood house in the ViBRE Village of Casatenovo (Lecco)
We hear more and more often about co-housing, what is it? The cohousing (which for simplicity can be written without a hyphen and which becomes in Italian cohausing), is a way of living that involves sharing spaces and services with neighbors. The latter may be old friends with whom it was decided to live in (almost) community, or people met when choosing a home, who are also interested in this model of life.
A simple declination of cohousing is the neighborhood houses, of which we talk a lot today, a model of ecological village based on the quality and cost-effectiveness of the solutions, where sociality in the style of the 'farmhouse of the past' is simply facilitated by the architectural model of the village, but without advance agreements, constraints and restrictions .
Sharing with neighbors on which the principle of cohousing it can have 'different degrees of intensity' depending on the projects and relate to one or more services, from the condomial nursery to the vegetable garden, from collective wi-fi to bike or car sharing. In any case, the goal of those who choose the cohousing it is to live in a less tiring and less expensive way, because if certain things are shared they weigh (and cost) less.
Where did the idea come from? Of the cohousing it is said that it is a new way of living, but in reality it is very old. Men have always helped each other by living close by, choosing to stay in areas that are open to the inside and closed to the outside. The primitive camp, the medieval cities, the residences of the last century have strong similarities: they are all united by areas of work and socialization towards the interior and defense systems against possible external attacks.
Certainly the forms of architecture are closely linked to time and the type of sociality in which one lives. Even the cohousing it has its own architecture, which if we go and see is no different from that of the open courts of the past. Again in today's architectural projects inspired by the cohousing there are the technological choices and materials, usually those of green architecture and green building for a sort of elective affinity.
Why is it talked about? Because some like it, of course. But if today the cohousing it becomes a reference model again because perhaps there is a need for a sociability that has been lost a bit and also a bit of 'teaming up' to better deal with difficulties, not least those of a new economic scenario. At one time the centralization of some 'services' was the factor that allowed the community of the farmhouse, although operating in difficult conditions, to have a very high profitability. Why, with the necessary differences, not try to do the same today?
In cohousing you can share many things with the neighbors. Before the reduction of arable areas and agricultural mechanization led, towards the end of the 1980s, the abandonment of land, in the farmhouses there was also the sharing of cars (this when the term 'car sharing' had not yet been coined). Why not brush up on that use?
Another strong point of the cohousing is the care of children: how much time and energy saved by helping neighbors, and being able to count on an internal courtyard-garden where they can play. And then the utilities: a single condominium contract for electricity, a single telephone system with separate accounting, a single connection for broadband ... how many advantages at no cost!
What is needed? Apart from wanting it, to do it cohousing we need an architectural project that is functionally aimed at sharing. The comforts of today and the sociability of the past cannot be separated from technology (which is a great help) and above all from a good project. The orientation of the building and the division of spaces are very important.
The building designed for cohousing it often has a courtyard shape with living areas towards the inside (like the ancient courtyards) that allow a direct view of the common area for the control of children, direct communication between the condominiums and surveillance. This without sacrificing their privacy because the entrances can be separated and directed from the boxes, so everyone can enter and leave with whoever they want without being seen.