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Design of collaborative housing puts a greater emphasis on design strategies that encourage social interaction, and participation of residents in the design process.

Building a community


Collaborative housing is specifically designed to encourage social interaction, though retaining privacy for residents when they need it is also a consideration. While conventional housing tends to be built with privacy foremost, collaborative housing purposefully designs in opportunities for incidental, informal interactions between neighbours.


Social contact design


Social contact design forms the basis of collaborative housing design. It is an approach to design and spatial planning that encourages casual social interaction, and includes:

  • Clustering of dwellings with entrances in close proximity to one another

  • Shared facilities

  • Semi-private outdoor spaces close to units for socialising

  • Good visibility of public and semi-private spaces

  • In larger developments, parking located on the periphery to encourage walking

Downsizing and ‘rightsizing’ at home


For some homeowners, the preferred option will be to stay at home and downsize or ‘rightsize’ to better meet their needs, providing scope to accommodate one or two extra households as well. See the section on small projects for more on this option.


Reducing environmental footprint


Collaborative housing tends to have a lower environmental footprint per household compared to conventional housing. The more that’s shared – whether it’s space, cars, tools or other items – the more compact the private dwellings can be and the more ‘resource efficient’ the development is as a whole. Many collaborative housing communities take this further and comprehensively embed sustainable design principles - see Narara Eco Village for example.

For a comprehensive guide to sustainable housing design, see Your Home.


A collaborative design process


Residents have formative participation in design through a collaborative process. The process will vary from project to project and may be led by residents, a facilitator or a designer, but either way the residents have substantive input throughout the design process. This is shown to lead to more sharing of spaces and facilities, greater affordability benefits and higher levels of design innovation.

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