Cohousing is a neighbourhood design that combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the
advantages of shared resources and community living - it encourages community while maintaining the
option for privacy.
Not to be confused with co-op’s cohousing uses the strata title ownership structure. To find out
more about the difference between cohousing, co-op’s and conventional strata title
Cohousing is based on private ownership of complete, self-contained homes centered around and focused
on shared facilities (common house), which typically includes a kitchen, dining area, lounge,
guest/caregiver suites, workshop, meeting spaces and other features the members may choose. Although
each home has its own complete kitchen, shared dinners are typically available a few days each week at
the common house for those who wish to participate.
It is also an alternative development model where the future residents participate in the planning and
development so that it directly responds to their needs. The physical layout is designed to provide
personal privacy as well as create opportunities for interaction with neighbours.
Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer environmentally sensitive design with a pedestrian orientation
and have documented lower vehicle use than conventional neighbourhoods.
The concept originated in Denmark about 50 years ago and is becoming popular in many countries. It
was introduced to North America by two architects in 1988 and since that time 127 cohousing communities
have been completed (seven of which are in BC), with numerous others in various stages of development.
The “Senior Cohousing Handbook – Second Edition” by Charles Durrett has inspired projects with a focus
on the needs of an aging population.