Participatory processes in designing cohousing communities: the case of the community project

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Cohousing communities’ participatory processes take place from the preliminary phases of the development process when the group is expected to collaborate and negotiate its private stakes with those of the whole community. Even after the establishment of the community, every choice regarding the common spaces has to be discussed and approved by the whole group. Results obtained from qualitative research on cohousing in England show how the internal dynamics of the Community Project are highly different from an “ordinary” condominium, mainly because it is an “intentional community.” At the same time, the case study shows that when some constitutive features of the participatory process are not respected, the community dynamics are negatively influenced. Theoretically, the cohousing formula produces a cooperative and communitarian organization rationally constituted in order to ensure not only livelihood, but also a higher quality of life and higher degree of socialization inside and outside the community. Practically, it requires a great effort of inhabitants in terms of intentionality, time, financial resources, and willingness to collaborate and negotiate private stakes. The Community Project represents evidence of the difficulty in reaching equilibrium between creating an “open” community and preserving the privacy typical of a condominium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-181
JournalHousing and Society
Issue number3
Early online date9 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Aug 2017


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