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Co-housing – the subject of this issue – is one of the many responses being provided by a more general search for new residential models. Responses triggered by the transformation of lifestyles and social and cultural changes taking place, that are largely ignored by current architectural production. These changes are leading toward the development of an alternative model of dwelling: a hybrid between the traditional home and communal dwellings, known as co-housing. This form of housing brings together groups of people in a single building. Without entirely renouncing to private space, these structures offer all of the benefits and support of a community, with advantages for relationships between people and the possibility of using a series of extra services and facilities. This system of conveniences and relations increases the social and economic sustainability of construction and operating costs and favours a greater sense of responsibility in terms of caring for spaces and limiting consumption. Numerous experiments have been conducted in countries such as Switzerland, France and Spain.
Co-housing is seen as an integral part of planning policies and strategies implemented by local governments, in some cases in collaboration with private subjects proposing valid solutions. Solutions that offer improved economics and a housing model marked by innovative spatial conditions and the ability to foster the growth of a community. While the model of co-housing is certainly not new or original, it does claim to solutions capable of stimulating forms of solidarity and alternative means of living together. It is a response not only to economic questions, but also moves against the diffusion of models of individualism typical of Western society, which tends to privilege lifestyles based on protecting the privacy of the individual and their immediate family to the detriment of the collective dimension. This situation is clearly presented in the examples selected for this issue. There is also a clear understanding that the theme of shared housing applies to multiple and variegated situations requiring active responses from contemporary architecture. Today’s timid attempts to adjust traditional residential models must be translated into a more radical cultural, figurative and typological turning point.

 

SHARED HOUSING. AN AGE-OLD NOVELTY – Pg. 8
Stefano Guidarini

DWEILLING AND SHARED SPACES. ATYPICAL MODELS OF ISLAMIC CULTURE IN IRAN – Pg. 18
Alessandra De Cesaris

COHOUSING AND GENERATIVE WELFARE. STRATEGIES IN ITALY AND EUROPE – Pg. 24
Alessandro Di Egidio

COHOUSING AS A MATRIX OF TYPOLOGICAL AND URBAN METAMORPHOSES – Pg. 29
Leila Bochicchio

 

Guidarini & Salvadeo Architetti Associati – TEMPORARY FLATS IN THE LEGA DEL FILO D’ORO CENTRE, OSIMO – Pg. 34

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In some cases, the typology of collective or shared flats is an integral component of projects that are not exclusively residential. This is the case of the Public Health Centre and Apartments inaugurated in the Italian town of Osimo. While directly linked to the medical services offered by the Centre, the flats in Osimo ensure a family-like quality. The structure offers regular flats that manage to avoid a clinical feeling in favour of a more domestic setting. The residential spaces are literally and symbolically supported by services and facilities designed to ensure residents wellbeing and standards of care. However, they are also independent and provided with a more autonomous appearance and function. Single and double bed flats are organised on the model of clusters, in which groups of private rooms share common dining and living spaces. Thanks to this expedient, residents are offered environments that combine personal privacy with a dimension of circumscribed collective living. The dynamics of organising this coexistence are thus very similar to a traditional family setting.

A+T architecture-Claudine Arend et Anouk Thil – SHARED RESIDENCE FOR STUDENTS AND ELDERLY IN LUXEMBURG – Pg. 42

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Located in a residential area of Luxembourg, this building hosts an inter-generational co-housing for people with a low income. The operation is focused on establishing a coexistence between different groups within a unique residential structure. This coexistence is presented as an advantage rather than a restriction on personal autonomy. The four-storey building hosts 15 autonomous flats, belonging to two main typologies: collective units for students and two-room units for adult or elderly residents. The central room, located at the heart of the plan and occupying the first two levels, is the physical and symbolic heart of the project: here the idea of creating a system in which the private dimension of each resident benefits from the presence and company of others takes form. The compactness of the structure and bioclimatic devices limit upkeep and operational costs and help maintain affordable rents.

Dominique Coulon & associés – HOUSING AND OFFICES IN STRASBOURG, FRANCE – Pg. 48

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Situated in the historic centre of Strasbourg, this small mixed residential-office building completes one of the medieval blocks bordered by Boulevard de la Victoire. The project is part of a plan promoted by the municipality, focused on refurbishing ten small urban lots across the city. The small building proposed by Dominique Coulon, despite its dimensions (a total of 500 sq. m. and a limited height), can be considered a tower, given its primarily vertical development. The project is based on an hybrid programme of apartments and work spaces, distributed across seven levels and completed by a roof-top garden and a pool. Beyond specific spatial and technological solutions, the operation is interesting for two distinct aspects: first and foremost, the administration’s approach refers to an intention to promote the city, entrusted to the private sector only as part of a programme able to focus actions on a preestablished objective. Secondly, the small building, despite its scale, manages to confirm the value of revisions of traditional residential typologies, the experimentation and the spatial complexity triggered by the coexistence between different people and activities.

Cebra – COLLECTIVE HOUSING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS IN KERTEMINDE, DENMARK – Pg. 54

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A rectangular form topped by a gabled roof is the basic sign that defines the CEBRA Architecture’s centre for children and teenagers in Kerteminde, Denmark. The repetition of the archetypal fragments of the traditional Danish home aids the integration of the new centre within its surroundings and provides it with its own iconic image. The spaces of the project reflect the ambition to create a complex that encourages social relations between young people and also meets their individual needs. Imagined like a set of Chinese boxes, the project consents a gradual spatial and emotional movement between solitude and proximity: the centre’s users can isolate themselves in their room, enjoy the limited social interaction found in a common living room, or join the larger communal experience offered by spaces open to the entire community. By regulating levels of privacy and social interaction, the project develops a typology that successfully combines the qualities of a private home with the performance and services of a residence.

Müller Sigrist Architekten – KALKBREITE COMPLEX IN ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Pg. 62

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The building is the result of a successful attempt to transform a tram depot into a multipurpose development. The complex is situated in an area always considered too noisy to host apartments but in 2007, a cooperative of citizens supported the proposal to realise a mixed-use development above the depot. Müller Sigrist Architekten developed a hybrid and vital layout; a contemporary fortress protected by heavy infrastructures and simultaneously connected with its surroundings. The tram depot, once open to the sky, now occupies the first three levels of the structure. Around it, at the level of the city, shops and services, ateliers, workshops, offices and cafes animate the street front. Beyond this infrastructural interval, the building continues and wraps a large elevated courtyard providing access to the resideantial levels of the complex. Classical apartments for traditional families are accompanied by collective housing, cluster-wohnungen and 10 joker-zimmer. A series of functions reserved for residents provide additional space for the apartments and transform the wide complex into a human scale system.

BARarchitekten+Carpaneto architekten+Fatkoehl architekten – HOUSING ON SPREE RIVER IN BERLIN, GERMANY – Pg. 68

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This housing project, situated along the banks of the Spree in the heart of Berlin, restores a portion of the water’s edge for recreational use by inhabitants and citizens. Subdivided into three distinct buildings, the complex is the result of the collaboration between three different design teams, each responsible for one block. The buildings share similar technologies, volumes and figurative appearances; a sober architectural language is limited to essential elements: the distinction between podiums and vertical elements and the presence of hanging gardens on private and common terraces. The urban level of the buildings are used entirely for public or collective functions. The 64 apartments are all different from one another, in addition to traditional flats, the system includes also 6 cluster units. The resident population is thus variegated, multicultural and multi-generational.

Einzueins Architektur – COHOUSING COMPLEX WITH SHARED SPACES IN WIEN, AUSTRIA- Pg. 76

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Wohnprojekt is the name of an association created to implement a residential experiment based on self-promotion, collaboration and principles of economic and environmental sustainability. The result is a new residential complex home to a community of 67 adults and 25 children. The building is part of an urban programme for the transformation of the Nordbanhof area, converted into a residential and tertiary services area; among the  recent interventions, the Wohnprojekt stands out for its discrete architecture and the positive outcome of a participatory experience that involved the future inhabitants. The project successfully integrates elements that favour sustainable living, participation and a strong sense of community. The economic sustainability of life inside the Wohnprojekt is ensured by optimum energy efficiency, the benefits offered by the location of common areas, the direct management of commercial activities and an organizational structure based on cooperation.

Nzi Architectes – JARDIN DIVERS. APARTMENTS IN MONTREUIL, FRANCE – Pg. 84

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“Jardin Divers” is located in the heart of Montreuil, a town with a rooted culture of public participation and housing policies. The project is the result of a participatory process: NZI Architectes worked with future residents to define the spaces during a series of co-design workshops. A total of 26 apartments, notable for their flexibility and variety, are located inside two parallel buildings, connected by a central courtyard. Outdoor communal spaces are accompanied by indoor areas, such as the laundry and a 60 sq. m. common room on the ground floor for meetings, workshops or events. The “Jardin Divers” is proof that participatory planning brings added value that corresponds not only with the addition of common areas, but above all their quality. Examples include the circulation spaces: the balconies, with a depth of 1.80 m., more than simple connections, become an extension of domestic space and consent a greater number of possible and unpredictable uses. These details, often concealed from view, truly make the difference.

Mat Office – COLLECTIVE YOUTH APARTMENT IN BEIJING, CHINA – Pg. 90

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The Boonself Youth Apartment is a temporary residence for young people in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. The project began with the reuse of an abandoned building that hosted recreational spaces for an office park. The refurbishment was combined with a series of public and collective functions in the basement; the upper floors were all converted into apartments. The project begins precisely with the potential expressed by the void spaces of the existing building. The area of the pool is transformed into a covered plaza; the original perimeter of the pool was redefined and wrapped by a series of collective and public functions, such as co-working offices, reading spaces, a bar-cafeteria, a small library, a lounge area, a space for presentations and talks and a kitchen. The upper part of the building is occupied by 233 rooms, subdivided into 5 categories based on their dimensions and internal fit-out. The atrium becomes a “theatrical” set for everyday life of a young community, transforming the perception of an old building into a large luminous and lively condominium.

Michael Maltzan Architecture – STAR APARTMENTS. COLLABORATIVE HOUSING COMPLEX IN LOS ANGELES, USA – Pg. 96

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Skid Row, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, is home to the largest number of homeless in the United States. Here, in 2014, architect Michael Maltzan completed the Star Apartments, in collaboration with a private organisation providing social housing. The programme includes, in the urban level, a series of services ranging from medical assistance to common areas. Above this basement, modular prefabricated blocks  host 102 apartments. Between the podium and the apartments a raised plaza provides access to the Health Center, with a shared kitchen, a meeting room, art workshops, library, gym and urban gardens. This raised terrace creates an urban “intermezzo” that opens up toward the city by offering unique views. Star Apartments can be considered the first mixed-use social housing project offered at affordable prices to have used this building method in Los Angeles. In a city like LA, where individual dwellings are often isolated cells, this model may mark a turning point.

Froetscher Lichtenwagner Architekten – INTERCULTURAL LIVING. SUBSIDISED HOUSING COMPLEX IN WIEN, AUSTRIA – Pg. 102

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Intercultural living is a public housing project in Vienna’s Zwischenbrücken neighbourhood. The complex contains 96 flats, plus 8 mini-offices and 2 commercial spaces. The typologies of flats were designed for a group of users, 30% of whom are migrants from 26 different countries. The building opens up to the city by creating new public spaces and establishing a direct physical-visual connection with indoor common areas. The dynamic relation between the interior spaces and the city is particularly evident along the external northern edge of Haus 2, where the podium consists of a 5-metre high light-filled atrium. The application on the atrium ceiling of icons that express the sense of “home” for the building’s residents ads an extra component that is both communicative and empathic. Behind its sober façades, Intercultural Living condenses a rich offering of spaces, a mix of services that reinforce the intercultural value of the project, bringing together the different cultures of its inhabitants.

 

ARGOMENTI

- Student Housing: prospettive e sperimentazioni. i seminari strategici dell’ANCE- Pag. 108
- Rigenerazione e riuso degli immobili della Difesa. I beni demaniali fra cultura, ricerca e innovazione – Pag. 111
- A Home for All: Six Experiments in Social Housing – Pag. 112
- Cantieri interrotti, architetture incompiute. Aggiornamenti – Pag. 114
- Gabor Acs, architetto della Società Generale Immobiliare – Pag. 118

LIBRI - Pag. 122

NOTIZIEPag. 124

 

 

 

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