Visualization of the wheelchair accesible interior of our project in the Zlín district.
Cohousing – a word of which meaning is not known among many, but is a well-established housing option in the world, where it received a warm welcome in the reality market. Itsconcept is similar to terrace housing. The advantages of such are, that it provides privacy as well as common spaces, where the elderly can spend their time together. Living in cohousing means living in company while respecting each others privacy. This relationship corresponds with arrangement of the houses and flats. Everything is arranged to support creation of good neighborhood relations.
So what exactly makes cohousing special? The future residents should get to know each other during the construction or during the initial planning. It would be optimal to create a community of 50 people for cohousing 20-30 elderly. The residents enter this community on their own accord as well as choose their own involment in its social life. For its realization the elderly can use common spaces and its equipment. The extent of common spaces is decided by each community. People make decisions for them selves and every single one of them has a vote. Cohousing can strenghten the neighborhood relations as well as everyone’s individuality.
To make the community functional and relations in it viable, we need the typological draft to be friendly for the community life as a whole. The character of the housing development is low rise (although it depends on every project), distance between the buildings and private spaces is corrsponding with a healthy relations between the residents. The whole site is designed for pedestrians, car parking is possible only on the outer edges. Each household has its own fully furnished housing unit or house and co-owns common spaces. The community centre is the heart of all activites. It includes dining hall, kitchen and recreation room. Other rooms can be arranged if requested by the co-owners (gym, relaxation room). It is also possible to intergrate other public services (hairdressing salon, small shops). The senior cohousing can also include room for a care taker, if needed.
All the buildings create common spaces between them where the elderly can meet in their front gardens. Every building has its own garden, facing away from the common spaces but our polls said those are less used than the front gardens facing the other residents. People meet through pedestrian traffic which gives them sense of company,supervision and security.
This type of housing is valued in abroad but not very known in the Czech Republic although it is suitable for the elderly. You can view it as an alternative to the retirement houses. It means living in their own natural social enviroment with the option to easily come in contact with other people, which is very important for their mental health.
Senior cohousing is not only meant for the elderly, but also for people in their middle age, who think about their old age. The purpose of senior housing is to grow old in one place, which becomes their home and to spend the rest of their lives between friends. These communites prolong the time when the elderly are capable of taking care of themselves and they can also take care of each other.
It is necessary to emphasize, that our goal is not to separate the elderly from other communities but to integrate and support them in their natural role in our society and to embrace their knowledge and life experiences. That’s why you can think about cohousing as multi-generational as well.
Cohousing is trying to keep the best from the traditional village communities of our ancestors while adding our knowledge of housing in the 21. century.
(Source text tzb-info.cz from the lecture of Ing. arch. David Tichý – JKA cohousing)