The Craneshaugh Cohousing Design

In the process of designing cohousing this site of Hexham, I had a lot of experience to share.

Hexham is a beautiful city which basically has both historical buildings and constructions with British modern architectures. People who living there are friendly and their income is shortly over the average level. Senior age level group of residents are about 20 percent, and this is a large occupation of population. This craneshaugh site, has a tricky typography with 13 meters height difference from north to south side, and it is not a flat ground from east to west. The Cockwood land actually became a shadow of sunlight on the south side of the site, and public transportation there are not very convenient.


source: Hexham (UK) Nothumberland postcode +NE46/@54.968475,-2.0725046,395m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x487d90620d319815:0xa83a2b78210dc004


Before we started, I have no idea of what is cohousing. In my cultural background, we have affordable housing for rent to those people who have needs, and they need to que for sign to live in those houses, besides, the form of these kind of housing are apartments. So after the visit of Lancaster cohousing site, me and my colleague finally get some point of the definition of cohousing, and agree deeply of this form of housing will largely enhance the opportunity of social interaction.




After the baseline analysis presentation, my partner got much more information about Hexham, such as social economic and historical background, and about cohousing, too. So based on those information we had, we decide to utilize this typography to have its unique identity, and also for mixed type of housing.






So we beginning to think out the appropriate road system, right housing types, and the most important, the unique typography that can contain these together.

After some tutorials, we finally made some progress that we will use blocks with natural way of roads to form a different neighborhood. Of course, we also designed large and small open and green spaces that may connect the different communities together as a whole, and share those facilities for making more social interaction of the whole site. We like to make residents love to live this kind of neighborhood, and getting more support from each other.




I have learnt a lot of things from my partner, and also from this program. Team work and hard working fulfilled this semester.

Hexham Colorful Village: Final Design


After All the process we went through, Finally, this final design created. The first thing we did when thinking of the design of this neighborhood was determining the appropriate area for cohousing, social housing and private housing. After some discussion, we decided to create co-housing on the west side of the site because the surface of this part is relatively flat and also this area get a lot of sunlight. Then, the social and private housing placed in the eastern side. We do not distinguish the specific area for social and private housing because we think those two things could be combined without having to be separated.


Then, we started to think about how to connect these two zones. Our initial idea was to encourage every inhabitant of this neighborhood to walk more than using vehicles. Therefore, to connect those two zones we create a pedestrian road from east to west and south to north, with the center of activity in the open space of the co-housing. We want to make the area of co-housing become the main area of neighborhood.

Another thing that must be considered is how to make an exciting journey for the occupants. The thing we do is make the U-shaped layout to housing Group which is in the middle of a residential area so that public areas can be formed on the inside of that housing group. There are three pieces of public space in the form of small park that can be used by the residents to do anything. In addition, we also provide some different “pockets of activity” for the inhabitants in order to make the trip became more interesting. That “Pockets” will be outdoor exercise area, playground area and bench with colorful flower around it.


We also intentionally do not provide parking space in the unit as a way to encourage residents to walk inside the neighborhood. However, we understand that the parking area is an important thing. Therefore, we provide some parking spots which is scattered inside the neighborhood where the spots are connected properly and within the distance that can still be tolerated,

Finally, colorful village is a big dream. In this design, we expect an lively and vibrant area can be formed so that the Elderly people which inhabit in this area do not feel lonely anymore. Not only of colorful buildings, but also from some design which I described earlier.

Hexham Community Engagement Event

 IMG_2786 (1)Figure 1

Hexham Community Centre

(Alina Pavlova, 2015)

On Saturday 18th my classmates and I took a 30 minutes train from Newcastle to Hexham. The trip aim was to visit Hexham Community Centre. The task for this week was to discuss some issues about design of a future cohousing with invited guests.

The community helped us to find necessary information and provided us with a good introduction to the topic. This event has helped me to obtain understanding about the personal people’s feelings of development of the place. It was very useful that we could talk and study about the existing cohousing and it allowed us to move forward our Hexham design. Hexham cohousing intended to accommodate members of the elderly generation unwilling to settle in a calm environment of standard or retirement houses. For this reasons lively, artistic colourful interior were proposed by community and my group to correspond to a never ageing nature of the residents. A multitude of common rooms and large corridors were included in the plan to allow the pensioners to communicate and spend time with friends (Brenton, 2013). This event provided me with a good overview based on the stories of existing residents of the commune house, which could not be found in books.

Our group were concentrated on a development of Community House. The common house is designed to incorporate a canteen, laundry and other shared facilities and shops which will also be available for visitors. My group prepared 5 questions for the community. Such as:

  1. Who is going to use a common house?
  2. What kind of activities held in a common house?
  3. Where is the best location for co-housing?
  4. Is it necessary to produce some space for guests?
  5. When is the peak time of using a common house?


The community answers us and gave us very valuable responses which we will definitely use in our development of the project.

uuuuFigure 2

 Community Engagement

(Alina Pavlova, 2015)

After a while, we had a tea break and then we started all over again. We swapped groups with our classmates and asked questions from other people about their dreamed imaginary cohousing. The experience of such event is very useful because you have real people with their unique desires. My group mates and I transferred some of the selected ideas into a diagram (see Figure 4).

Communal House

Figure 3

Diagramm of  Common House

(Alina Pavlova, 2015)



1Brenton, M., 2013. Senior cohousing communities – an alternative approach for the UK? Available at: [Accessed 21 April 2015]

2Bradley, C., 2012. Community Planning Toolkit. Available at: [Accessed 21 April 2015]

Hexham : The Sun Light Analysis


Hexham is a market town located in the south of Tyne River. Here is the location of the site which will we be designed for co-housing project in this second semester. When I visited there, I was amazed with the view in the north of this site. That view is so beautiful. Site is a hill so from the main road towards the forest in the south will be uphill. Site also directly adjacent to the residential areas in the west and south forests.

To design a residential area, we have to think about the factors required by the area. The sun is an important factor that must be considered in the design process. Initially, I had the assumption that the forests in south of this site can be a barrier of the sunlight to get into the site. Therefore, I do simple research on the position of the sun. In doing this simple study, I was assisted by two websites that can identify the position and altitude of the sun. I will write the link of the website at the end of this blog.

Sun Position-02

Slide1Picture above is an illustration of the data about the sun position and altitude that I get. In this picture, I assume that the height of the tree in the south of the site is approximately 20 meters. From the picture, we can see that the best time to get the sunlight is in the summer and fall. In that seasons, the site can get the sunlight all day. Unlike the spring and winter. In the spring, the site is still possible to get the sunlight in the daytime, but the shadow produced by the forest behind will cover most of the site’s area. While in winter, it is almost impossible the site can get the sunlight because the sun altitude is so low and also the trees.


In other diagram, it shows about how the shadows can be formed at the site. I used a similar method to the first diagram. I made two objects which are assumed as house and the barrier as high as 20 meters behind. From the diagram, we know the position of the sun and the direction of the shadow which can be formed. Although the intensity of sunlight in the summer and fall maximum, but we also have to think about the shadow that can be formed by other objects. It will require further study because it involves a lot of more complex things in the design process. It certainly should be done so that each unit can get enough sun intensity in order to create a comfortable area to live.

References :