Types of Cohousing Communities

Cohousing is more of a philosophy than a housing type. Cohousing can be
built in a high rise in a downtown core or in single family homes in the
middle of a forest. It can be in a renovated factory in an industrial area
or a townhouse project in a new subdivision. Cohousing can be created
anywhere and in any way that its residents desire. It can be built in any
housing type. Following is a description of some of the types of cohousing
that have been built or are planned in North America.

Using Existing Neighbourhood

The first completed cohousing community in North America required no new
construction whatsoever. Several neighbours in N Street in Davis
California simply ripped their backyard fences down and created a common
pathway. They converted a basement of a home as place used for common
meals. Today they have 12 homes participating and there will likely be
more in the years ahead as adjacent homes are purchased by cohousers.

Renovating Buildings

Several cohousing communities in North America started with renovated
buildings. The Doyle Street Cohousing in Emeryville California was formed
by renovating a warehouse in a seedy part of San Fransico. Today it
contains 12 beautiful condominium style units with residents of all ages
including children. Half of the Cardiff Place project in Victoria is in an
old turn of the century renovated manor.

Town House

Most new cohousing is built in a town house or clustered housing style.
The cars are seperated from the homes in a communal parking lot. The homes
are all connected by pedestrian walkways with gathering nodes. The focal
point of these developments is a common house which contains the shared
facilities. Often these projects are concentrated on part of a site
leaving the rest of the site as green space. The 30 unit Winslow Cohousing
on Bambridge Island across from Seattle is an example of this. They have
their homes on 2.5 acres of their 5 acre site leaving the rest as a forest
and play area.

Covered Walk Way

The proposed WindSong Cohousing project in Langley BC is an example of a
cohousing project with a covered roof. They will have 34 townhouse and
condo style units all connected by a glass covered roof which will allow
community activity all year round. This is a common feature in Danish


The Cardiff Place cohousing community in Victoria is an example of a
condominium style project. They have 17 units in two four-story buildings.
The bottom floor of the 2 buildings contains the common facilities.


Many cohousers want to create an idyllic community in the countryside. The
42 unit Nyland Cohousing community between Denver and Boulder Colorado is
such a community. Originally zoned as 42 one acre lots, this community
recieved permission to cluster their homes on 5 acres in the middle of the
property, leaving the rest in its natural state and for gardens.


Many cohousing projects are built with an ecological focus in mind. The
planned Ithaca eco-village in New York, South Surrey eco-village in
Vancouver and Moon Dance eco-village near Edson Alberta are three such
examples. All of these projects are attempting to create sustainability as
part of their development. This includes some local jobs.

Lot Development Model

Another approach to cohousing is the lot development model. In this
method, residents buy the appropriately zoned lot in a cohousing
development, and build the home when they are ready. In this way, no
massive amount of funds are required to finance and sell 30 units all at once.

High Rise

Although there are none in North America, cohousing in high rises is very
common in Sweden. In a high rise cohousing development, one or two floors
are set aside as the common area.

Mixture of Cohousing Communities

In Denmark, many cohousing communities are now built in clusters of 3, 4
or more. There is one project which will have an entire part of town
developed as adjacent cohousing communities. This allows for a mixture of
cohousing types in one area.