Why Co-Living Today?
The housing market is in crisis.
Increasing prices, demographic changes and property scarcity has created a new generation asking desperately for living solutions beyond home ownership. Add to this a rental model that lacks any kind of service with long term contracts and ever escalating costs and you’re left with a large proportion of the population unable to live in the types of homes and in the kind of locations that would offer them they lifestyle they desire. I’m sure that many of you reading this have experienced this very real situation, if you don’t own your own home, the options available to you are few and far between. The problem is most obvious in urban areas where there is now an unprecedented demand for compact, affordable and sustainable accommodation. How we live and work day to day has changed beyond recognition but our choice of housing typology simply hasn’t kept up. Against this backdrop, we see a potential solution in co-living.
Unlike its more traditional definition, modern co-living loses the radical political principles and utopian ideologies to act as a pragmatic response to the current societal need for everyday services, cost saving, and accessibility. In arrangements both formal and informal sharing space and resources provides inclusive opportunities for new communities to grow and flourish, exemplified by the principles of sharing, equality, and participation. You may be more familiar with this concept than you initially realise because everything from flat shares through to gated communities fall under the umbrella of co-living. We see it as a way of providing more people with access to fantastic living environments, fulfilling social lives and a straight forward and intuitive rental model. By minimising space per capita but creating comfortable and adaptable communal rooms more people can live sustainably and affordably in the most sought after areas.
We know this is already happening, but whether your friend is sleeping on the couch for a while or you are living within an organised development we have learned that without proper planning and co-ordination there is a risk of creating scenarios and interactions that result in conflict. As a relatively new and untested typology, co-living differs dramatically in its social architecture from the traditional core family households with which we are familiar. We understand that within that complex network there are definitely opportunities for cohesion, but equally for collisions and it is to understand where these are and what we can do about them that makes up a significant part of this research. In order to experience all the benefits of co-living, we must first understand how to create harmonious adult spaces that stand as not just last resorts but as attractive accommodation alternatives.
Solving this problem is a transdisciplinary task, put simply it requires people of many backgrounds to take a step back and a fresh look at how they approach building and distributing housing. What that might look like is unclear. I, for example, am a design masters student based at Linnaeus University, Sweden. As part of PUREHOUSE LAB, and as the subject of my dissertation, I will be investigating what co-living specific artefacts might look and act like. I want to challenge how we design for co-living and intervene with concepts that might generate new knowledge about how people share, experience and inhabit space. With the popularity of co-living increasing, it is an exciting time to respond with theoretical and practical research and development into how we can all take part and we hope you will follow and engage with this process over the coming year.
©George Green, LNU, Honorary Member of the PUREHOUSE LAB