Trudeslund near Copenhagen Denmark a cohousing development 197881

Trudeslund is situated in the town of Birker0d north of Copenhagen. It is a total urban design of a small residential community (for a full description, see McCamant and Durrett, 1993). The design brief was based on a social ideal that is manifested in its physical design. In 1978, 20 families came together to form a cooperative society in which a number of household activities and responsibilities of daily life would be shared. The focus of concern amongst those shown in Figure 1.6 was thus on patterns of life that both provided for a sense ofindividuality and a sense of community. The families' immediate objective was to get permission to build a cohousing development on land that was zoned for detached houses. The speed required to process their application for a zoning change led to a lack of clarity of social goals amongst the members of the group, resulting in half of the families withdrawing from the scheme. The group restructured itself and formed a clear statement of its intentions.

The process of moving from an agreed on agenda to a completed project was arduous and time consuming as decisions were made democratically with all members of the cohousing group participating. As with all interactive open-ended decision-making processes it was truncated only by some external circumstance. In this case it was the fear of interest rates escalating (in 1980-1 they rose to 21%). The group asked four architectural firms to submit designs for their consideration and decided to proceed with the one prepared by Vankustein Architects. Interestingly it was the architects who strove for a greater degree of integration and communal activities than the community members themselves wanted. The members were very conscious of their individual identities and of houses as financial investments and wanted the designs to be non-controversial and less obviously communal. If the community collapsed, they wanted the houses to be easy to sell on the open market.

Trudeslund ended up comprised of 33 residences and a common house. The community is laid out on two pedestrian streets lined with row houses in an L-shaped plan (see Figure 7.24a). An L-shaped common house with a small square in front of it is located at their intersection. There are two children's playgrounds - one halfway down each street. In addition, the wooded areas outside the community act as a playing area for children. Each house has a small front garden abutting the street. The parking space for cars is on the outside.

An area of programming conflict arose over the design of the kitchens of each house. Should the house designs be standardized for economic reasons? As each family had its own ideas the kitchens of each unit are unique (all 33 of them). The houses range in size from 90 to 140 square metres (970 to 1500 square feet) and cost from between 77,000 to 1 million Danish Kroner ($US91,400 to $US117,600 in 1980 dollars). The price included a financial share in the common house.

The streets act as communal areas especially for children, but it is in the common house that the communal life of Trudeslund takes place. It contains kitchens and dining rooms; much communal

Figure 7.24 Trudeslund, near Copenhagen. (a) The site plan and (b) a cross-sectional view of the street.

Figure 7.24 Trudeslund, near Copenhagen. (a) The site plan and (b) a cross-sectional view of the street.

meal-preparation and dining takes place there. One of the responsibilities ofresidents is to cook communal meals on a rotational basis. Some members eat together frequently in the common dining room, others less so. The common house also has facilities for housing visitors, for children and teenagers, and a library, photographic darkroom, workshops, laundry and a store. It really is the heart of the community.

Cohousing projects such as Trudeslund illustrate the diversity of total urban designs. Many total urban designs have resulted from highly autocratic decision processes but Trudeslund is an example of a highly participatory programming and design activity. There were many hands making the broth but, communal effort though it was, it was one project carried to conclusion by one architectural firm under one auspice. Its goal was to provide a rich social life for its members, children and adults alike. Much of life is shared. There are other types of cohousing developments (e.g. for the elderly) but the philosophy and development process behind them all is similar.

A clearly articulated behavioural brief based on a set of mutually agreed on expectations dictates much about the design. This observation holds particularly strongly for the semi-public spaces (the 'street') and the semi-private, or private to the group, spaces (the internal communal rooms). In much urban design the behavioural assumptions underpinning the design of the public realm are, at the best, based on observations. They are thus more speculative than in this case. There is, nevertheless, often a slip between what people say about how they will behave and what they do.

Major references

Franck, Karen (1989). Overview of collective and shared housing. In Karen Franck and Sherry Ahrentzen, eds., New Households, New Housing. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 3-19. McCamant, Kathryn and Charles Durett (1988). Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press/Ten Speed Press.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

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