Publication Detail

Diversifying Cohousing: The Retrofit Model



Suggested Citation:
Sanguinetti, Angela (2015) Diversifying Cohousing: The Retrofit Model. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 32 (1), 68 - 90

Cohousing is a compact development of private homes supplemented by shared land and facilities that are collectively owned, designed, and managed. A growing body of research suggests that cohousing promotes personal, social, and environmental well-being. On the whole, cohousing has so far proven to be a niche market for middle-class, white, highly educated, liberal individuals; however, research has not clearly distinguished between traditional cohousing (defined for this study as new-build and industrial- or commercial-reuse developments) and retrofit cohousing (which reuses existing housing stock). This paper presents three studies, each focusing on a different unit of analysis (individual residents, communities, and encompassing geographical areas), that characterize retrofit cohousing as a unique model with greater diversity than traditional cohousing. Compared with traditional cohousing, retrofit cohousing is more often urban and generally smaller (fewer housing units), and it employs a greater variety of legal ownership structures. Residents of retrofit cohousing are also more diverse than residents of traditional cohousing in terms of age (more young people), race, partnership status (more single individuals), employment status, and housing tenure (more renters), and they have fewer household assets on average. However, the retrofit model does not mitigate ideological barriers to cohousing related to political affiliation or education.