Is it Cohousing? Dorms for Grownups

R. Philip Dowds is commenting on the Atlantic Magazine article: Dorms for Grownups: A Solution for Lonely Millennials? In a new model of living, residents will have their own “microunits” built around a shared living space for cooking, eating and hanging out.

The single family home, and the condominium within a professionally managed building, remain our two primary models for residential accommodation. Of late, there is considerable — although not yet widely accepted — experimentation in variations that involve less privatized amenity and more shared common facility. In the eldercare sub-market, retirement housing, assisted living and congregate care have advanced in sophistication; the floor plan shown in the Atlantic article might be dorm-like for the youthful, but would be understood as a variant of congregate care if serving seniors.

But I would have to argue that, no matter what the floor plan looks like, if the membership of the group, household participation in shared activities, and the common amenities are not managed (“governed”) by the residents themselves, then it can’t be cohousing. It’s just another form of either custodial care, or else high-income opportunity where one chooses to pay somebody else to sort things out and keep them running. Cohousing is made by values and behavior, not by architecture.


Philip Dowds

Cornerstone Cohousing

Cambridge, MA

Category: What

Tags: cohousing, Definitions, living in cohousing, relationships, Vision and Values

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