The Summary Of Designing Neighbourhoods For Social Interaction: The Case Of Cohousing


The relationship between design of every residential unit and residents’ behavior is the things which have to be considered in every neighbourhood. In many investigations, it is showed that the formal and informal interaction between design, personal and social factors can give an impact to residents’ behavior. Therefore, cohousing is one of the good example to solve these questions. This type of housing will encourage the community inside the neighbourhood to do some social interaction. It is better than living further apart. However, building the relationship through physical objects are deal with the functional things such as sharing pathways, communal spaces and less private space. Those things can encourage people to engage in social interaction. Actually, there are many other factors affect the social interaction such as personal factors, social factors, the time period and the community.


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Cohousing is one type of housing which contain of some private dwellings and many community facility. The forms of the cohousing are private units, semi-private space, indoor and outdoor communal space. The aim of building cohousing is encouraging a ‘collaborative’ lifestyle and independence between residents. Cohousing is more popular than any other housing, There is no social hierarchy and shared economic systems. Moreover, according to objectives and design strategies, cohousing indicates the characteristics of new urbanism. Cohousing has the same social objectives like building community, encouraging interaction and creating convivial spaces. This type of housing also set the environmental objectives for its neighbourhood such as lower resource consumption and the reduction in the ownership and use of private vehicles. On the other hand, the strategies of design are similar with the common housing.


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There are some design principles for cohousing. First, we need to set up the principle of indoor and outdoor communal facilities; Second, we need to design a good visible road into all communal spaces; Third, we do not allow car to get in community; Forth, we need to focus on gradual transitions between public and private space; Fifth, we need to consider rules of semi-private outdoor spaces close to private units for socializing (buffer zones); Sixth, we need to build access points on shared walkways; Seventh, the size of tendency for private dwellings are smaller than usual unit size (with limited kitchen and laundry facilities provided);Last, cohousing will encourage every resident to use communal spaces more than the private unit. For instance, cohousing will build communal kitchen/dining areas, laundry, gym, workshop/hobby room, guest bedrooms, entertainment room, garden and storage space.

In conclusion, the key design factors of cohousing are density; layout; public and private spaces; the quality, type and functionality of communal spaces. However. It will be hard to rank the effect of those factor in terms of social interaction because of the complexity of inter-relationship between social, personal, design variables and opportunities.

References :

Williams, JO, 2005. Designing Neighbourhoods for Social Intercation: The Case of Cohousing, Routledge Publishers

The Cohousing Association Of The United States (n.d) [online] Available at:  [Accessed 10 February 2015]

LiveWell Cohousing (n.d) [online] Available at:  [Accessed 10 February 2015]

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