Communal Living, delivering housing diversity

A study trip to Amsterdam by the MArch and MAAD Communal Living studio at Cardiff University was the starting point for research into how housing typologies can support communal living in the widest sense. The studio visited the morphologically ambitious Wozoco and Silodam by MRDVR. On the way to Borneo Sporenburg we discovered Funenpark a collection of apartment villas in a shared park landscape and to the west the similarly arranged GWR Terrein. The studio also looked at work communities NDSM and Ru Pare. Recent models were compared to 20th century examples like the Duiker Open Air School built at the centre of a housing courtyard and Bijlmermeer the 60’s slab blocks now being reconnected with the ground. Honing in on recent co housing the studio studied apartments built in a serviced plots at Amstelloft and the exemplary Vrijburcht where 52 dwellings have been built by a co-housing group to also provide; childcare, a sailing school, café restaurant and shared gardens. Back in Cardiff we looked at published case studies such as Big Yard in Berlin with its two terraces across a linear shared garden and the New Ground Co Housing by and for senior residents and Collective Old Oak for young professionals in London.

The studio studied the land use arrangement and morphology of each type. These tissue studies are 4Ha or 200x200m, many of the buildings would suit a 0.5 Ha site. The recent NPPF called for Local Authorities to allocate 20% of land in smaller plots of 0.5 Ha – large sites are also beginning to propose 5% for self-build. The studies show how the different models of delivering housing that share land resources can lead to more diverse architecture and homes that have access to valuable amenities and enjoyable public spaces.