The Independent yesterday had a good article about Britain’s first purpose built ‘commune’ and the same story has been taken up by You and Yours on Radio 4. In a time when we are looking more and more at ideas of ‘community’ to inform design around digital online experiences – social software – innovation around offline community has been less obvious. Architecture is perhaps the one exception though until now design of communal public spaces rather than co-housing per se has been the main form this has taken.
Commune’s have a got a bit of a bad name in my opinion. Sleeping together is fair enough but having to eat, cook and live in the same space isn’t right for the modern chap. Communes need to adapt to ‘post-traditional’ society and our desire for community but also our need for privacy. Hey presto, Springhill. ‘A co-housing initiative’ and what could pass as a glorified housing estate where it not for the fact that the ‘houses’ are all ‘designed’, they’re made out of wood, there’s a shared kitchen [should you want to use it] and gardens and it’s in Stroud, home to artists, hippies and the like.
I really believe that initiatives like this will become more and more popular and not just amongst the middle classes, especially as we search for communal solutions to everday issues such as childcare, ‘playspace’, security and company etc. Another co-housing project in Bristol is already underway. A place where old and young can come together to help each other out sounds idealistic built it makes a lot of [common] sense when notions of trust are increasingly important and increasingly hard to build.