“Co housing is a way of living both ‘apart and together’ with a collaborative group ofneighbours who know each other and sign up to certain values” (Brenton, 2013).Co-housing is defined as ” a form of group living which clusters individual homesaround a ‘common house’ – or shared space and amenities… designed to promoteeasy social interaction among its members” (Brenton, 2013). Senior co housing is apractical solution on many levels as it offers the opportunity for older people todownsize, which in turn, frees up a property suitable for a younger family. At the Yorkand Dunfermline seminars Maria Brenton, ambassador for the UK Co housingNetwork presented successful developments of senior co housing for the early1970s in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and others, yet there is still minimaldevelopment in this area in the UK.
To my knowledge the Pollard Thomas Edwards project is the only senior co housingcommunity established in London so far, despite high interest from groups aroundthe country. Initiated by OWCH (Older Women’s Co-Housing) “The women’s briefwas very clear: their own sustainable homes, with shared facilities that create asense of community.” (Pollard Thomas Edwards, 2016). The architects collaboratedwith the women to design a T shaped layout that focussed around the garden, whichis a focal point of the commune. The site includes shared spaces, such as acommon house meeting room, kitchen and dining areas.
Seminars held by the UK Co housing network have shown that ” Co housing is ofmounting interest to older people in Britain from the volume of enquires received.”(Brenton, 2013). Whilst there is this demand in the UK, there is no government policyor funding to support it, whereas the Dutch government policy promotes the conceptof the ‘living group’ because of its beneficial effects on health and wellbeing.
Seniorco housing can be a vehicle for continuing an active life, which then reduces thestrain on medical, and care services.As the elderly predominantly live alone, 60% of women and 34% of men (Brenton,2013), this enables people to actively participate in a group, and to have theautonomy and control over their environment, as was achieved by the women’sgroup in Switzerland, Wohnfabirk Solinsieme.