Common House as Life Boat

 

In a recent post to the cohousing listserv, Cohousing-L, Dean Smith of Sunnyside Village posed the question:

Has anyone considered equipping their Common House to serve the community through extended natural disasters?

Sunnyside village is in the design phase and is considering how they might equip it for use during earthquakes or other natural disasters that they might experience in their Pacific Northwest location. Cohousing architect Bryan Bowen of Caddis Collaborative offered this clear reply that might get any community thinking about their options:

CoHousing Houston, Heartwood Commons Tulsa, and Treehouse Village
EcoHousing are all doing levels of this. Really depends on your climate and
what disasters you face. I’d say generally that these measures include:

   – Providing battery or generator back up to critical common house
   circuits (maybe home ones or emergency site lighting)
   – Making sure the CH retains cooking capability throughout
   – Protecting WiFi or other communications as much as you can in the CH,
   including cell phone charging, etc.
   – Hardening the CH (or safe rooms in units) to tornados, designing to
   withstand hurricanes or freezing temps, etc.
   – Making it so you can “island” the CH so it has good “passive
   survivability”

The biggest factor in disaster resilience is knowing your neighbors, so
cohousing starts with a leg up. Having some social infrastructure in place
is a good way to make sure everyone is covered when bad things happen.

Category: Common House Design

Tags: disaster, lifeboat

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