Hailing from Denmark in the mid 1960s, the concept of cooperative and collaborative housing evolved under the need for community amidst existing Danish housing. “The Missing Link between Utopia and the Dated Single Family House”, published in 1968 by Jan Gudmand Høyer, seen as one of the founders of cohousing, honed in on the typology as an antidote to the lack of interaction found throughout suburbia. The idea behind cohousing was simple; embrace and nurture community. Cohousing became a way in which groups of friends or neighbors could craft a strong sense of social, environmental, and economical sustainability. In Danish the word for this type of housing is called bofællesskaber, translated into English as “living communities”. Translated once again into design, cohousing becomes a vehicle for architecture to provide protection, comfort, and delight in and around the home.
This type of living, however, has only been accessible to those with the adequate funding. High monthly or yearly dues, lack of rentable units, far from public transit, or strict guidelines strongly limits the type of person that can be apart of this type of living. Cohousing, benefitting numerous facets of healthful living, should be attainable despite income level. Most cohousing currently shows a vast majority of communities set in areas of high property value, be it college towns or the outskirts of major metropolitan cities. Although numerous people find value in knowing your neighbor as well as being apart of a greater entity, this specific collaborative housing would greatly benefit the a person without access to a healthy living environment.
The focus of this project was aimed at aiding the single mother and her children and using cohousing as the healing environment for which this type of family would be able to thrive. The typology of cohousing would act as the foundation for motivated, low-income, single mother families to make the transition from public assistance to personal self-sufficiency through subsidized housing. Whether fleeing domestic abuse, on the verge of homelessness, or simply down on luck, this community has the capacity to form a supportive family through the guidelines of cohousing. A community that is safe, affordable, and empowering is a community that can transform the home and its reaches into a place of healing. It must be a place where kids can play freely, adults can support one another, and where they all together be heard and understood. Simply put, the cohousing community would be giving the power back to individuals that have felt powerless.