Cohousing: Social Interaction target


More and More countries and places are supporting the development of more sustainable neighborhood, more activity means more livable. Besides, neighborhoods can help the redevelopment of local society. Social interaction will bring the knowledge of residents, and social structure. Also, this will make residents build up the trust with each other, and make the conversation begin and enhance the social network connection. So it is very important that the new residential neighbourhoods are designed with the point of increasing social connection.

Source: Source:
Cohousing provides a very useful model of anlysis for its design with social contact and formal social stuctures to encourage residential neighborhood social interaction, such as community management and communal activity organizations, and decision making processes.
The design approach used in cohousing also adopts most of the architectural and urban design principles identified in the literature as being crucial to high levels of social interaction in neighbourhoods (for example higher densities, good visibility, clustering, inclusion of defensible space and car parking on the periphery of communities, etc.). Thus, cohousing also provides an opportunity to study the implementation of all of these principles together to determine which are key or less important in
terms of encouraging social interaction.
The management of indoor communal facilities was also shown to influence usage and social interaction. The exclusion of residents from communal facilities for private events was highlighted in both communities as being a factor that reduced social interaction, as it created conflict and lowered use of communal facilities by those who were excluded. Poor maintenance of communal spaces wasalso shown to reduce use and social interaction.



More and More countries and places are supporting the development of more sustainable neighborhood, more activity means more livable. Besides, neighborhoods can help the redevelopment of local society. Social interaction will bring the knowledge of residents, and social structure. Also, this will make residents build up the trust with each other, and make the conversation begin and enhance the social network connection. So it is very important that the new residential neighbourhoods are designed with the point of increasing social connection.
Resident participation in decision-making processes is thought to increase levels of social interaction within communities and thus strengthen social networks. However, the research showed that in both communities resident involvement in the decision-making processes had also created conflict. Design decisions had created some of the biggest conflicts in both communities.

Jo Williams (2005) Designing Neighbourhoods for Social Interaction: The Case of Cohousing, Journal of Urban Design, 10:2, 195-227

Pedestrian priority neighborhood

main pedestrian

From all the baseline analysis we come up with our vision for the project – ‘colorful village’. Colorful, it not only means visual but also implies diversity. We have six aspects for this vision: 1.a diverse community 2.a vibrant neighbourhood 3.strong community engagement 4.pedestrian priority neighborhood 5.grow their own food 6.small business. Here, I will explain more about pedestrian priority neighbourhood.

Currently, public health researchers are very interested in walking community. Because of lifestyle, leading to many negative health effects, such as obesity and heart disease(Hrushowy, 2006). Therefore, we want to build a place that encourage the residents to walk inside or outside the neighbourhood; a place which is more attractive, less polluted, less congested location and comfortable for people to walk (Hawaii Government, No date).

In our project, there is a main pedestrian road connect some open spaces to cohousing open space and also a walkable track connect to Cock Wood. People can walk through the whole site from social-private housing to cohousing area. In addition, some business will happen on the track. As Hawaii Government (No Date) mentioned, good sidewalk will bring huge benefits of economy. Some case studies have shown that because of convenient pedestrian design, high levels of retail activity often happen in shopping district and tourism areas. It means walkable areas will attract more people. However, in order to design successful pedestrian in neighbourhood, the appropriate units will be smaller than neighbourhood. Gehl (1987) gives one reason that human choose their specific route, rather than abstract entire neighborhoods, but the physical environment around pedestrians and social characteristics will decide the quality of the pedestrian experience (Bosselmann,1998; Cullen, 1961). Another reason is that most of pedestrian routes will happen on a block-by-block area, rather than entire neighbourhoods(Hrushowy, 2006). Therefore, when we think about our project, we need to work at this suitable scale.


Bosselmann, P. (1998). Representation of places: reality and realism in city design. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gehl, J. (1 987). Life between buildings: using public space. New York : Van Nostrand Reinhold,.

Hrushowy, Neil James Christopher. (2006). A Case Study of Pedestrian Space Networks in Two Traditional Urban Neighbourhoods, Copenhagen, Denmark. University of California Transportation Center. UC Berkeley: University of California Transportation Center. Retrieved from:

Hawaii Government (No date) Available at: (Accessed: 21 April 2015)

“Alte Schule Karlshors” Cohousing


Figure 1

Different Generations Garden Together in ‘Alte Schule Karlshors’ Cohousing

(Sofie von der Pahlen, 2013)

Cohousing first gained its popularity in Denmark in 1960s, but over time similar projects have been developed in many other countries. Nowadays, cohousing communities can be found in relatively large numbers in many European cities, such as Berlin, Milan, Amsterdam and Stockholm (Abrams, McCulloch,1976).

Alte Schule Karlshorst

Figure 2

Living Side by Side in ‘Alte Schule Karlshors’ Cohousing

(Sofie von der Pahlen, 2013)

 There are many cohousing communities in Germany. One of them worthy of mentioning is called ‘Alte Schule Karlshorst’. This self-organised cohousing is situated in Berlin. Similar to many other similar communities, ‘Alte Schule Karlshorst’ appeared as a result of people looking for a cheaper and easier living. (see Figure 1&2). This search is especially stimulated in modern cities by constantly rising cost of accommodation and increasing proportion of ageing population requiring more support. In general, the problem of uninhabited buildings is very common in Germany (Scotthanson, 2004). In order to save buildings from complete desolation, vandalism and gradual disintegration, the government prefers to find them other uses, sometimes temporary, sometimes more permanent. In particular, the changes in demographical situation led to many schools and kindergartens being underused, whereas the existing retirement houses are not capable to accommodate all of the pensioners having physical or financial difficulties living on their own (Cohousing Cultures, 2012).

Inhabitants of Vrijburcht Cohousing

Figure 3

Different Generations Living and Working Side by Side in ‘Alte Schule Karlshors’

(Sofie von der Pahlen, 2013)

Consequently some of the schools and kindergartens were closed and transformed into cohousing estates (Gils, 2013). The building of the Alte Schule Karlshorst community has a long history dating to 1907 when it was built and became a school for Russian officers’ children during Berlin’s post-war occupation (Gils, 2013). Transformation of this historical building into a cohousing has helped to both protect the building and ensure its future use and, of course, provide living space for a multigenerational society (Pavlova, 2014). (see Figure 3). The neighbourhood includes families and single occupants (a total of 60 people, see Table 1).


Table 1

Information about ‘Alte Schule Karlshors’ Cohousing


1Abrams, P., McCulloch, A., 1976. Communes, Sociology and Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.4

2 C. Scotthanson, K. Scotthanson,2004. The Cohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community, New Society publishers, p.14

3Cohousing Cultures.,2012. Handbook for Self-Organized, Community Oriented and Sustainable Housing, ICS, pp.54-55 Cvetkova, L., 2013. The Village. [images] Available at: [Accessed 02 February 2015]

4Gils, W., 2013. Inhabitants of a Alte Schule Karlshors Cohousing. Available at: [Accessed 04 February 2015]

5Pavlova, A., 2014. Utopian Ideas in Commune Buildings, Dissertation

Design of neighborhoods in China



From the beginning of human civilization, people have never stopped pursuing living environment and urban construction. As science and technology civilization developed, the city has been built better and better, streets, buildings, green park and residential area formed a whole city. The most basic form of people living is a neighborhood and neighborhoods in different forms and in different sizes make up the entire city. We can say the neighborhood is the basic component of a city.



End of the nineteenth century, English sociologist and designer Ebenezer Howard introduced a new method of urban planning “Garden City”. “Garden City” combines the city’s high efficiency, highly active city life and beautiful rural scenery, trying to get rid of the plight faced by urban development, which is a city designed for health, life and production that is able to meet people’s rich daily social life. With the planning and construction of Welwyn Garden City near London and a series of garden villages and garden cities at the beginning of the early twentieth century, the ideal of “garden city” has become a reality. The current neighborhoods design follows several principles, such as walking distance is controlled within 400 meters, have a clear center and identifiable edges, mixture of people and land use, and the control of streets size. These design concepts and principles have been widely applied to the neighborhoods design of various regions in the country; according to local conditions, the development fits for the local community.



However, in developing countries like China, the theory and ideology of “neighborhoods design” has not been widely accepted and promoted. Since ancient times, China has its own theory of urban construction and development, especially in the residential neighborhoods. The Chinese traditional living form is “walled enclosed” and “closed courtyard”, and people’s living tradition is isolating living space from external environment with a wall, forming introverted life courtyard.



And now, the neighborhoods building in China has become commercial gradually, construction companies are trying to get the city’s best location, and then build high quality residential neighborhoods, in order to obtain high returns. In the process, the developers often do not take into account the overall coordination of the city development, and do not follow the principles of neighborhoods design to develop sustainable neighborhoods. In my opinion, the city streets in China are made of different commodity neighborhoods or residential apartments, and each individual is completely independent and has their own style and mode of development that all are developing by depending on the urban commercial center as the center. In contrast to principle of neighborhoods design that the scope is controlled within walking 400 meters, in many cities, due to growing demand for urban development, the city limits are constantly expanding to the surrounding, which often leads to the situation that many neighborhoods share a regional center within the range of a large region. All neighborhoods are isolated from the outside world with fences and guards to ensure the safety of residents, so neighborhoods are individuals of relatively independent presence. The roads in neighborhoods and urban roads are isolated by walls into two road systems, and usually only residents are allowed to use the roads in neighborhoods. Neighborhoods road system is not integrated into the urban road system, and urban road often change its development model because of the presence of neighborhoods, making the entire urban road system is forced to change around the shape of neighborhoods.

In short, because of China’s own national conditions and development, the theory of neighborhoods design not applicable in China. We can base on design principles, combined with the development requirements of the city itself, identify the suitable development model.


Howard, Ebenezer, Author’s Introduction and The Town-Country Magnet,  The City Reader, pp.328-335.

Miao Xu and Zhen Yang, 2009, Design history of China’s gated cities and neighbourhoods: Prototype and evolution, Urban Design International 14 (2), pp. 99-117

Living in a Gated Community

gated community

When you think of a gated community, what comes to mind? Probably things like safety, security, exclusivity, expensive homes, and more. But what else lies behind those gates?

When choosing a home, it’s very important to consider the surrounding neighbourhood as well as the home itself. Each neighbourhood has its own characteristics including degree of safety, crime and physical appearance. While some neighbourhoods can cause a home’s value to fall, others, such as gated communities, help homes resist market trends and retain value over time.


The term gated community simply refers to any type of neighbourhood that has controlled access using one or more gate that residents or visitors must pass through. Some have a guard booth with a security staff to ensure that only residents pass the gate, while others use an automatic gate that residents must open with a key card or remote control. Most gated communities have a name and a clear geographic definition as marked by the barriers and gates that control access to the area. Gated communities may exist in any location including cities, towns and rural areas. They also range in size from a few homes to several dozen.


Besides safety, gated communities offer other advantages to residents. Only the residents have access to public areas, which may include parks and sports facilities like tennis courts and a community pool. Gated communities in cities may encourage residents who would otherwise live in the suburbs to become urban dwellers, which can help with urban redevelopment. Many gated communities consist of luxury homes and high-income residents, which can make living in a gated community serve as a status symbol.

Money buys freedom

                                  Money buys freedom


Not all gated communities offer the level of safety residents may expect. Unauthorized access is available to anyone who disables a gate or poses as a visitor, and communities with lax security may be no safer than surrounding neighborhoods. They can even become targets of criminals who expect the homes inside to include more valuable possessions. A gated community can also promote a general feeling of social paranoia, implying that other parts of the area are unsafe and the gated community is necessary to protect residents. Finally, gated communities may cost residents more than comparable homes in the region that aren’t gated, regardless of any real benefits.


  1. Barcelona Field Studies Centre: Gates Community Pros and Cons Available at:
  2. Real Estate ABC: Pros and Cons of Gated Communities Available at:
  3. USA Today: Gated Communities More Popular, and Not Just for the RIch Available at:

Samuel Csader: My Culture & What Urban Design means to me


To start with I shall introduce myself. My name is Samuel Csader. I come from Slovakia, a small country located in European middle-east. Since almost ever, Slovakia as a country have been occupied or at least heavily influenced by wealthier and stronger nations. The last one – Soviet Union has left big scars on our cities and culture. Slovakian culture has rural roots linked with agriculture, nature, traditional colourful clothing, singing, dancing, sheep cheese dumplings (as a Slovakian traditional dish) and home-made schnapps of course. But as it happened all around the world industrialization followed by urbanisation and globalisation did not skip Slovakia. Nowadays it is mostly about cities. Mostly about two of them – Bratislava, the capital city and city of Kosice.

Communist era brought large amount of prefabricated housing constructions of a big scale for lower prices what attracted people to move in and start their new urban lives. I, too, grew up in one of those. In our nation´s capital. I can not complain on the conditions I grew up in. It could of been better sometimes, of course, but could of been much worse. Even though I was born one year after Slovakia claiming democracy I could still feel the communist era´s influences. But it is because of that and the lack of information from abroad, I think, that people did not complain about living in “chicken coops” as those block of flats are called sometimes. And this fact have persisted with most of these districts still fully functional without turning into ghettos.

Bratislava - Petrzalka

Spending most of my childhood surrounded by those buildings or by nature caused that Urban Design did not mean much to me. It was just then when I realised that following Indiana Jones as a famous Archaeologist is not very perspective and Architecture sounding very similar I chose to follow this path. After High School of Civil Engineering I applied for studies on Faculty of Architecture. But neither the studies themselves, in the beginning, convinced me to absorb urbanity and design of urban environment in natural way. In a way as a hobby does. What convinced me the most was travelling. Seeing other places, feeling the other places and suddenly being able to compare did open my eyes of how strong the environment around us can be and how it can influence social life and wellbeing.

How do I see Urban Design in this moment? Well, I see it as a driver for a social change. Everything that we, humans do, we do it for ourselves. From growing vegetables, fishing, drawing, building roads and houses, recycling waste, cleaning oceans, saving whales or using renewable energy sources. At the end of the day it always comes down to people and people´s needs. In times of rapid urbanisation I see it essential to recreate urban environment in a sustainable and more liveable way. I do not see Urban Design only in a physical way of perception, but it is mostly about the mental affect that Urban Design possesses. Environment itself has the power to shape people, make them socialize, share knowledge, influence their feelings and contribute to general wellbeing of the whole society. As prognoses say – the cities to become the future of the world, I see Urban Design as an inevitable part in this journey. Our environment is the closest thing to us. It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It can change the view of one´s perception. Or perhaps, one´s perception can change the view of environment… But which way is the easier one?