Case Study 3: Co-Housing

Bachelor of Architectural Studies

8.Culture & CommunityDS549 icons 09

Who was Involved?

Design Studio 3 [ARCH 7111] is taught in the third year of the Bachelor of Architectural Studies. In year three students develop design capabilities through projects of moderate complexity typically based in the urban environment. This is where our future architects learn how to evaluate and present effective solutions to planning problems in a systematic way, responding strategically to urban issues, such as contextual relationships, position in broader public space and planning in relation to the environment.

The Studio is led by Magdalena Garbarczyk. Magdalena has a Master of Architecture from Deft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has worked as an architect and design team leader in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and New Zealand, and leads CZYK studio.  The studio is taught with a team of tutors including Ainsley O’Connell, Chris Murphy, David Turner, Lester Mismash, Jo Hurst, Yusef Patel, Max Hynds, and Bin Su.Design Studio 3 [ARCH 7111] is taught in the third year of the Bachelor of Architectural Studies. In year three students develop design capabilities through projects of moderate complexity typically based in the urban environment. This is where our future architects learn how to evaluate and present effective solutions to planning problems in a systematic way, responding strategically to urban issues, such as contextual relationships, position in broader public space and planning in relation to the environment.

What Happened?

 In this project students from Design Studio 3 developed a cohousing project for a real client – Auckland Cohousing Group – a fast growing group of people who are developing resident led housing using the cohousing model as a starting base.

 “Cohousing is a residential living arrangement comprised of privately owned residences and commonly owned facilities. The site is managed by the residents or owners, making decisions of common concern at community meetings. […] Cohousing allows for privacy and community, self-responsibility and responsibility to the group. Cohousing is not a commune. There is no shared ideological belief, guru or pooled finances. […] This is a very old model of living but the contemporary version originated in Denmark in the 1960s where there are now 700 cohousing sites and it has spread around the world, including 150+ in the US.” –Client Brief

Cohousing allows neighbours to interact for social and practical benefits, with economic and environmental benefits. This 9-week long project opened up conversations about the layers of complexity that come with collaboration, participatory design and the role of architects within this bottom up sustainable housing development approach. In a nutshell, the project was about minimising footprint to maximise community, involving the clients throughout the design process.

Students:

  • used a brief provided by Auckland Cohousing Group (the client) to develop a site on Unitec’s campus future development grounds in the Wairaka Precinct.
  • Researched and analysed cohousing precedents (in NZ but also overseas) similar in terms of scale
  • Developed initial conceptual ideas in groups
  • Then individually developed a viable scheme taking into account ideas of equity, affordability, environmental sustainability, community and architectural quality.

What was the Outcome?

Unitec’s Bachelor of Architectural Studies has fully embedded sustainability within the curriculum. This project is an example of how sustainability is being integrated into course assessment. The intention was to get students to think differently about housing, to develop their understanding of community and learn how to participate (as future architects) in bottom-up design processes. This project was worth 35% of the overall grade for the studio. Some of the students went on to exhibit their work at Auckland Architecture Week 2016 in the Student Exhibition where their work was acknowledged as, dealing not only with the topical issues of housing and housing affordability in Auckland, but also offering space for communities to thrive.

This project was also part of another Architecture week event – the Envision cohousing breakfast forum (organised by Auckland Cohousing Group & Envision)– and was received with enthusiasm from the broader community – raising interest from potential clients to work with Unitec architecture students and in the cohousing model.

Links to related Sustainability Approaches and Resources:

http://www.envision-nz.com/

 http://cohousing.org.nz/

Earthsong Co-housing

The Sharing Economy