Sustainable living comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be seen in eco-friendly office buildings that are close to public transport, install bike racks and use evaporative cooling systems, or the residential house that uses tanks to store water and install solar panels. In one its most intensive yet basic forms is the idea of co-housing.
Although seen progressive through Europe, the United States of America and China, co-housing has finally made its mark in Australia. A group of inner city Melbournians are taking the idea of sustainability and making it their own. In a recent report from the Age Newspaper, it cited that the $15 million inner city Melbourne project is set to revolutionise the way in which Australian’s interpret the idea of co-housing.
The report explains the prejudice that the group named “Urban Coup” are fighting against to be perceived as innovative rather than inheriting a “hippie” stereotype. The project has been based around Scandinavian and Eastern European initiatives that focus on social sustainability as being symbiotic with environmental sustainability.
Urban Coup’s joint residences will be completed in a space in a ten-km radius of the CBD. It will comprise of 30 separate residences, each unit being paid for my Urban Coup members at approximately $450,000 – $500,000. While set up costs may initially be high, it is prophesised that residences will save more through energy and water saving measures. The residences will all share a communal dining hall, guest bedrooms and garden. The garden will comprise of a large vegetable patch and chicken coup.
The Melbourne Co-Housing Network says that co-housing is only possible is three factors are adhered to. The first is funding. It is important to note that due to the factor that the housing will not be home to one, or even two families, the possibility of monetary risk is higher. This may make industry members nervous, as they will be dealing with multiple clients with different ideas and briefs.
This translates into the second factor of compatible expectations. As well as be similar in terms of monetary expectations, there needs to be a level of compromise and communication between community members in order to create an environments that suits all involved. Again this leaves industry members in the precarious position of dealing with different points of views and ideas in terms or design and construction.
The final is timing. There has to be compatibility as to when community members can proceed with co-housing plans.
It all comes down to compatibility and breeding a sense of community. While this will create new areas for the construction and design industry to move into, there will also be issues involved that go above and above traditional residential construction.
While these issues can only be resolved with time and practice, Urban Coup is promoting this initiative as the future for residential urban living. It is the traditional community environment that is the catalyst for residents who are not strongly sustainability motivated. These residences allow community to flourish in the true sense of the world and cultivate healthy environments through this factor.
Image: as sourced from Green Thinking