26 Sep An insight in to multi-generational & communal living
When we hear of the phrase communal living, hippies and off-grid communities of baby boomer idealists seeking an alternative lifestyle to escape mainstream society springs to mind. But there seems to be a change in the wind – is the rest of the world finally catching onto the benefits of community living?
After an influx of multi-generational home requests by our clients we have decided to explore the new buzz around multi-gen and co-operative housing and how it’s revolutionising the traditional idea of communal living.
Why Communal living?
Since the dawn of mankind, we have relied on our community for survival. We were hunters and gatherers, collecting food together and protecting each other from external dangers. It was only with the emergence of the monetary system and industrial revolution that our western society ostracised itself from village life, moving into single family homes and leading a more independent lifestyle. Even more so, in the last 60 years we have seen the development of the “nuclear family”. For the most vulnerable amongst us, this disconnection can have adverse side-effects to mental health and wellbeing.
For the generations since the baby boomers, the discourse of independence has been intrinsically linked to freedom and liberty. Communal living is often viewed as a challenge to this form of existence with an assumption of leaving behind the modern world. But call it what you like, eco-villages, co-housing, purpose built communities or intentional communities, communal housing is being re-defined to suit life in a modern city and the modern world.
Structure of a Communal Community
There are many different types of communal communities, from inner city urban residences to rural villages. In fact, there are some exciting developments happening around Western Australia as we speak. This has been driven by a growing need to re-connect with our community and re-define how we use our home environments. One such local company paving the way for communal housing is Green Fabric. Founded by Eugenie Stockmann, Green Fabric connects people interested in joining a co-operative. They have an array of experienced professionals who can offer advice on building a co-operative housing project.
There are many reasons why people explore the opportunities of communal living. Benefits include sharing the huge financial costs of buying land and building, and the long-term security this provides. It also provides safety, knowing your neighbour well and coming together in shared outdoor spaces to discuss local issues. The shared outdoor space means you can share community gardens and knowledge in growing fruit and vegetables. An added bonus is if one household goes away on holidays, there is someone close by to look after your house and garden, and feed the pets.
Health benefits of communal living
It is through our relationships – with family, friends and the wider community – that we find life enhancing impacts on mental health and physical wellbeing. This is supported by research from the National Institute on Aging which suggests a strong connection between social interaction and health.
Together with an aging population and the stresses around housing affordability there appears to be a return to communal living and multi-generational housing. Research conducted by Edgar Liu and Hazel Easthope reported that in 2006 a quarter of Australian’s were living in multi-generation households. This resurgence means housing design must adapt and reflect the changing needs of society. Design can be purposeful with separate zones to allow the occupants privacy and space where needed, while encouraging social interaction.
To get a deeper understanding we would suggest to visit purpose built communities in your area.
Green Fabric is hosting a bus tour (Housing Co-op Taster Tour) on the 8th of October where you will visit 3 communities around Perth. Please contact Eugenie Stockmann here: firstname.lastname@example.org