Humanity faces challenges on a global scale that put the well-being of the planet, nature and society in danger. Answering these challenges collectively is crucial, we have to put life and its thriving at the center of our efforts. Socially and environmentally sustainable housing is a challenge on a global scale. If we find ways to change it, due to its size it can also create a huge positive impact.
In this paper we are looking for collective living models that can have a positive impact on our lives and the life of our planet.
We define the ecosystem as our starting point and model: we link it to the concepts of space, circularity and communing to arrive at the idea of a collaborative ecosystem that we define as a good place to live.
We build on the existing forms of collaborative housing and use a systemic approach to define the drivers of successful projects.
We begin with the ideas and ideals that are associated with home and we regard architecture as infrastructure that can form a frame for the opportunities of the ever changing living conditions. We point out the importance of the direct environment by introducing the theory of the 15-minute city and the 1-minute city. We argue that these can result in an expanded living environment that has a direct effect on the quality of peoples life.
We then explain how interaction is based on trust, that it is partially built by structured interactions, but also by organizational strategies that facilitate opportunity for access to housing. The collaborative housing projects can be regarded as adaptable experiments built on collaborative governance systems, prioritizing stewardship over ownership and separating land cost and housing cost.
In the final chapter we propose design tools to shape the ‘in-between’ spaces in order to facilitate sharing while still maintaining the ideas associated to home. These tools are related to boundaries and thresholds, the centers identity, purpose, necessity and quantity.
In conclusion the changing role of architecture is defined as creating fertile ground for interaction which enriches the lives of inhabitants. With the application of the outlined strategies (defining home, creating opportunity, using the potential of proximity, building trust and activating in-between spaces) at all scales of spatial design, we create the opportunity to design a more equitable, healthy, and sustainable future for us all.
The theoretical part is completed with highlighting successful examples of collaborative housing projects in the Netherlands and abroad. These projects underline the ideas described in the paper and inspire to further thinking about the question:
How should we live together?