On 9/24, Gail and I were happy to join New View Cohousing in Acton for their 20th Anniversary celebration. It was a window into a beautiful community that Gail remembers fondly from the programming workshop she facilitated in their early years: a multi-age group of long-standing friends and neighbors who have nurtured a common purpose in a bucolic and supportive environment. It was a pleasure to see how the clustered neighborhoods terrace down the hill, with the Common House kitchen and dining at their heart, overlooking a lush lawn and gardens.
It was also interesting to observe the challenges, both present and future, for the founding generation to age in place. In designing cohousing today, we need to have far more awareness of universal design and accessibility for all in the common spaces and the density of the housing itself. For example, how can we design a kitchen integrating the commercial stove adjacent to accessible burners, so that all members of the community use and benefit from both? We’d want to make the accessible sink useful on a daily basis for all, including children who benefit from the lower height. Can new apartments be added that are smaller and fully accessible to allow for down-sizing by aging residents? It was an inspiring and thought-provoking visit to an exemplary cohousing community, and gave us many exciting ideas for our ongoing design projects.
-Tamar Warburg, Principal at Studio G