|Common outdoor gathering area in Danish cohousing|
Fifteen years ago, I visited Skraplanet in Denmark, one of the world’s first cohousing communities and spent an afternoon with architect and founder, Jan Gudmand-Hoyer. In 1964 Hoyer gathered with friends to figure out how to purchase homes in the pricey Copenhagen real estate market.
Home purchasing then – as today - offered few real choices of importance. Hoyer and friends discovered house architecture was boring and designed by someone else. Land developers already answered (or ignored) the critical questions of neighborhood living before residents even showed up:
- What is the neighborhood like? Is it exciting? Is it safe?
- How are the homes situated in relation to gardens, play areas, gathering spaces?
- What is there to do for kids and for adults?
- Where can I walk and socialize? Is there something interesting to see?
- Who are my neighbors? How do we work together?
|Children's play area designed by residents at Skraplanet cohousing|
|Private residence at Skraplanet with balcony and private gardens|
|Posing with Jan before our tour at Skraplanet|
TOURING WITH THE MASTER
Jan Gudmand-Hoyer taught me the nuances of cohousing planning. He proudly described some of the clever design techniques unique to this housing form. His community, Skraplanet, used modernism, an architectural style popular in the 1960s. At the time of my visit, the community was 20 years old and had found a green niche in the surrounding forest.
Jan died yesterday at 81. He and his cohousing pioneers offered the world a new kind of village for the 21st Century. Thank you, Jan. May we live up to your dream!
|Modernist design with plenty of window views and greenery|