Sustainable Community: Learning from the Cohousing Model

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Trafford, 2005 - Nature - 179 pages

This book is about the previously unsubstantiated link between 'sustainability' and 'community'. It is based on a ten year investigation of cohousing, a popular new type of housing project that directly addresses both environmental degradation and social disintegration. The book argues that social and environmental sustainability are inexorably linked. Whilst the existence of this link is generally recognised, there is little existing literature that offers empirical evidence to prove it. In doing so, the book uses case study data (including 120 photographs, 50 tables and 30 diagrams) from twelve recent cohousing developments in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Japan - concrete examples of working sustainable communities.

The book comprises two parts. Part One introduces the twelve cohousing communities - projects with distinct attributes of their own that highlight their diversity and cultural specificity. Each is richly illustrated with photographs taken by the author, who (in addition to being an architect and scholar) is a commercial photographer. Part Two offers detailed comparative analysis based on substantive quantitative and qualitative data. The strands of the analysis are eventually brought together in a 'holistic' or 'ecological' model, the Community Empowerment Model. The model is then utilised in a broader discussion of empowerment, community development and ecologically sustainable development (ESD).

The book is scholarly and authoritative, yet accessible to a broad intelligent readership as an illustrated account of a fascinating cultural phenomenon. It will be valuable to students of architecture, planning, sociology, community psychology and environmental studies. It will also be useful to architects, planners and other professionals. The book contains in-depth information for participants in the growing cohousing, ecovillage, sustainability and communities movements. It is well recognised that such activists face a scarcity of successful examples of sustainable communities from which to draw knowledge and inspiration. This book will help fill that void.

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