Designing for Cohousing: One Architect's Insights — Lessons from #CohoCon2019

The recent CohoCon (National Cohousing Conference) brought together cohousing residents, architects, builders, and consultants to talk about the present and future states of the industry. We were so inspired by all of the different people we met throughout the event, that we wanted to bring back some of their insights. Over the next few weeks, look out for videos from the conference both here and on our social media pages.

We interviewed Bryan Bowen, a principal architect at Caddis PC, whose work focuses on cohousing projects. He shared with us some of the lessons he has learned working on various cohousing projects.

What’s the Biggest Lesson You’ve Learned as a Cohousing Architect?

The following is a transcript of the video interview with Bryan, lightly edited for clarity.

Keep the Design Simple

I'd say one of the biggest lessons is—in order to really focus on the essentials—which is to give people the community that they want to live in, you can really keep the building simple. Let the architecture take a background role. And focus on the details that people touch: the front porches, the layered landscape, the kind of information you see in the first 12 feet of the building, and that you experience day to day.

Then you can allow the rest of the buildings to become very simple, very straightforward, and on budget.

Make Sure the Money Goes to the Right Places

That's one of things that helps a community succeed, first off, and results in the money going to the right places where people experience it day-to-day, and the occupational part of the life of the project.