Designing cohousing: 22 things to consider

 Philip Krabbendam

       1 What we can do together 

            And with how many
Shared domestic facilities is what all types of cohousing ( such as ‘central living’ and ‘group houses’ ) have in common . But how can we put this principle best in practice .
In the first part ‘what we can do together and with how many' I will consider which facilities are appropriate and what is a suitable groupsize that fits the facility. 

In the second part 'what we can do together and with whom' I'll look at the possibilities of the integration of different lifestyles.
In the third part 'what we can do together and how we keep in touch' I will look at how residents can be invited to casual contacts that , projects , and in the immediate neighborhood .
From small to large .
We encounter shared facilities on different scales . On the scale of a small group, as in the case of a group house, on the scale of a larger group, such as an old courtyard , on the scale of a large group such as a street, and on higher levels, such as the neighborhood , the quarter, districts and the city as a whole. Below, I want to show some examples, and connect them…
Hall , cluster and group
An early example of a small-scale shared facility is found in the experimental flats in Utrecht Overvecht (1971). Here every four homes share a common 'hall' . These halls were and still are used as playground for children, for playing games, table tennis, or for a communal meal.

Experimental flats in Overvecht . The common halls are used for different kinds of playing.
In the ‘central living’ (centraal wonen) project in Hilversum (1977), we see 'clusters' of four and five housholds that live in seperate houses, connected with a clusterfacility: a room for cooking and eating. The current housing occupancy hovers around two people so in these clusters you can expect groups of about 8 people , but it can be more: 4 families with 2 children can build up to a group of 16 people!
In the ‘central living’ project in Delft (1981), there are no separate houses, but bigger and smaller quarters, that can be rented in different combinations. Here we see no clusters, but 'groups' where the inhabitants cook, eat and chat. In the 'shared living' (gemeenschappelijk wonen) project in Nieuwegein, we find both forms: groups and clusters.

In the experimental flats in Overvecht the groups of four households do not share a kitchen, but a room for playing. So this kind of facility is also possible.

Courtyard , small project and court
As an examples of a slightly larger scale we see the classic courtyards, where inhabitants share an access (surcharge) and a common garden, originally equipped with a pump, as a facility for 20 to 30 houses.
More recently, we see relatively small projects, some 20 or 30 households, who share a garden and a general meetingroom, whether or not fitted with a workshop and washing machines. One example is a project called 'Zonnespreng' in Driebergen, a project for 20 households that share a general meeting room, a guest room and quite a large and adventurous garden/wood area, where residents can meet each other by the fire or on a pick-nick table, and children can climb trees and play hide and seek.

The 'Zonnespreng' in Driebergen: 20 appartments with a central meeting room under the porch and an adventurous garden and wood area around it.

The 'shared living' (gemeenschappelijk wonen) project in Nieuwegein has more than groups and clusters: the tenants also share facilities at the levelof 30 households: the so called 'courts'. A garden area with for example a playground, a pick-nick table and a fire pit. And a room for bicycle storage. 

 A ' court ' in 'shared housing' in Nieuwegein 
In ‘central living’ in Delft, also a bigger project, we find the same kind of courts, here on average 20 households, with also a workshop, storeroom for bicycles and a laundry.
Street, home zone and project
At a higher level, we can also find shared facilities. For example, in the 'street', where residents share an outdoor area for taking a stroll, for chatting, a barbecue or a party. It is a facility that is put under pressure by the car, that need to be parked here.
In the seventies the 'home zone' was introduced , a street designed in a way that cars knew their place, so that the residents could inhabit the street as they originally did.
 The ' Wandelmeent’, the street of ‘central living’ in Hilversum. Behind the spiral stairs  we can recornize the  general meeting room annex bar.
Also in the seventies, the first ‘central living’ (centraal wonen) projects arose, housing projects that all had their own outside area, like a street or a square, but here were also indoor facilities, called 'project facilities': such as a bar, also used for general meetings, workshops and rooms for children. Here we are at the level of about 50 households/ 125 people, like the aforementioned projects in Hilversum (lower level: 'cluster') and Delft (lower levels 'groups' and 'courts'). The also mentioned 'shared living' project in Nieuwegein (lower levels: groups, clusters and 'courts') is a project of more than 250 people, with different project facilities.
Facilities for the neighborhood , quarter, district and city
In cities we are used to the level of the neighborhood, with shops, convenience stores and play areas for children. And above this level we see the quarters, districts and the citycentre, all  with their own specific facilities.
A series of levels
Sharing facilities can be very practical, but it is also a way to maintain contact with others, who are not part of the household. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, because we are not simply who we are, we are also who we are in relation to others. A household in a flatbuilding finds itself faced with a large-scale environment that discourages contact with others. The gap between the level of the household and the social context of the large scale environment puts the household in a social vacuum. When you embed the same household in a smaller context, the household can be recognized as a part of it. But this in not enough. If there would be only small groups of households, these groups would also be isolated. The problem of isolation would only be shiftedto a higher level. In other words: the small group needs a bigger group in order to position itself in a social context. And also this bigger group needs a next level, etc etc.

Any social circle needs  a context

When we want to make sure that every social circle has a context, we need a whole series of levels , from bedroom to the city center and beyond. This series usually exists, but there is also a gap in it. Looking upwards from the privacy of the bedroom , we may see the living room as the first higher level, that contains a social level, the family, in which the members of this family can place themselves. But then there is a long interval until the level of the neigbouhood, where the series regains shape.
Housing projects with shared facilities can bridge this gap if they are not too small. A cluster or a group reaches not far enough to meet the context of a whole neighborhood. The same applies to small projects of about 20 to 30 households.
Only projects on the level of a street, of 50 to 100 households, can be recognized in the decor of the neighborhood. From here the series of levels inside the projects can connect with that part of the series that still exists, the sequence of neighborhood, the quarter, the district, the city etc.
But still there can be a gap: not all projects provide a smooth connection between the individual household and the community as a whole. In major projects the set of levels can be incomplete in two ways. Thus, the halls of the experimental flats in Overvecht, Utrecht, can provide a social context for the individual households, but above this the ‘hallcommunity' there is only a parking lot for the residents of 3 x 4 halls, and the question is whether these facilities can provide a social context. Facilities that can provide a social context for the entire complex of 183 homes are also missing.

Experimental flats in Overvecht . 3 x 4 halls share a parking lot . Social context?
On the other hand, we also see major projects that only have facilities for the whole. The social context that can arise here is very large for individual households.
These considerations make understandable that larger projects containing more levels . But now it gets interesting. If we accept this principle, then how can we best materialize it? We can of course base ourselves on the experience like mentioned above, but perhaps there is more to be found.

 In a span of control between 5 and 10 , the boss can follow anyone personally
When you study literature, It is hard to find something on group size, coupled with a facilities. A few things :
– for businesmeetings the number of 8 people seems to be an optimum, that ensures that all participants come to fruition.
– another number that is mentioned is 30. This is the number of people who can live without written rules.
– then there is the number 120, which represents the number of people we can grasp as acquaintances in our lives.
Span of control
A concept from the world of business organization that might be useful is the so called ' span of control’. This is a number that expresses how many people can be monitored by a supeviser before he/she loses the overview . Research showes different numbers. The maximum can be 5 , but in other studies also the numbers 10 , 15, 50 or even 90 appear. All seems possible. The explanation is that the large numbers occur in companies where production is highly automated , and where employees know what they routinely have to do . The small numbers apply to more customized work, where the employees must be monitored closely.
What can we conclude from all this? Shared facilities seem to correspond with this close monitoring.  If we just think away the supervisor, then we may say that you can function in a group of 5, better than in a group of 15 or more. Thus, the number 8 for a group maybe not so bad .
In urban planning is also reflected on the size of the different scales. For example Gaston Bardet has called for a series of 'echelons' that scale up with a factor of 5 to 15 up. When we take the average factor, 10, we would see groups of 10 people, streets of 10 groups (100 people), neighborhoods of 10 streets ( 1,000 people ) etc. But perhaps this 'span of control’ of 10 is a bit on the large side.

 To the ideas of 'transition towns' and 'ecovillages' we can derive some interesting functional facilities 
Suitable facilities
The life on the levels of the series stands or falls with suitable facilities. A common kitchen for 18 people is barely functioning . The management of a kitchen requires a smaller group with a stronger organization (a smaller span of control).
For a 'courtyard', a group of 20 to 30 households seems to be too large. Lawn mowing in the common garden, keeping plants , weed pulling , these are serious tasks in a large garden, while the personal involvement decreases with the increase of the number of residents. If you count the groups, the number is less alarming. 20 to 30 households comes down to 5 to 7 or 8 groups. This makes it easy to divides the tasks and let these them occasionally rotate.
Regarding the appropriate facilities for the entire 50 to 100 households: a meeting place and bar, sometimes with facilities for children, hobby , and occasionally a purchasing cooperative and a sall restaurant. These facilities ask for dividing tasks, for opening the bar, coffee mornings , musical and literary evets , general meetings , the project newspaper , contacts with the landlord , or the organization of festivities. Here the subdivision in ‘courts’ can help with the organisation of the different tasks.
Transition towns and ecovillages
The facilities spread across the various levels can distinguish between functional services and facilities aimed at the experience. I have the impression that the latter stand in the foreground. Having meals in the group , sunbathing or barbecuing in the courtyard, visits tot the bar… There are some functional features , but perhaps not always interesting. Like the kitchen sink and the stove, the lawnmower, hoe, broom and washing machine, tap and pantry in the bar.
But if we look at the ideas of ‘transition towns’ and ‘ecovillages’ we can still derive some interesting functional facilities. As a greenhouse and vegetable garden for their own use , a gray water circuit , a constructed wetland for wastewater reuse , a wadi for the reception of rain, conservatories and solar cells.
These facilities can be distributed over the different levels, but we need to ask an important question here: are there enough people in the house to do the work, to maintain the equipment and distribute the products as necessary?
What to do now?
On the basis of the above-mentioned examples we can imagine a series of levels that contains the individual household, the group, the courtyard and the project or street. To form a series it is important to choose the numbers in a way that the levels are attuned to one another. A ‘span of control’ of 4 seems to be favorable here. Now we can consider to build the following series:


1)   -individual members of a household who share a living room and a kitchen
2)   -4 Households who form a 'cluster' or a ‘group’ of about 8 people who share a kitchen
3)   -4 Groups ( 16 households), about 32 people, who form a ‘courtyard’ and share a garden with a bicycle storage, a workshop, and washing machines.
4)   -4 Courtyards (64 households), 128 people who live in a ‘project’ or street and share a general meeting room annex bar, and possibly workshops and room for childcare.

Perhaps needless to say, but these numbers represent a kind of average , if you look at the practice you see how they can be used flexibly. A larger or smaller project can also work perfectly well. In practice, you can also see that one of the levels may be missed. In projects where household that live in seperate houses that support the level of 'clusters', it can cost a lot of energy to run the life of the household as well as life of the cluster, because these levels have simuar facilities: a kitchen and a living area. In this case it may be wise to integrate the housholds directly in the level of the courtyard.      


Domestic life has become a part-time job


What we have to remember in all of this: husband and wife are both working during the day, the children are at school or at a childcare centre. During the day there are very few people at home . Domestic life has become a part-time job. We don’t have much time left for sharing common facilities, since we hardly have time to inhabit our own homes.
If we want to derive functional features from ‘transition towns’ and ‘ecovillages’ then we must be sure of the availability of the 'workers' that will be needed to run these features.

       2 What we can do together

           And with whom  

Shared facilities, that is what all forms of cohousing have in common . But with whom do we want to share these facilities?
Social context
As we saw in Part 1, the environment hardly provides any social context in which households , singles or families, can fall into place. At the level of the street social contacts occur only occasional, and the decor of the neighborhood is so big that individual households can hardly be recognized. For a social context, we need a range of social levels, from the household, through a group or cluster , a courtyard, the project and the neighborhood to higher levels. In Part 1 of this series , we have also seen what facilities can play a role here. In this part we look at the nature of social life at different levels of the series.
Variation in household size
A characteristic of the Dutch cohousing association ‘Central Living’ is striving for diversity in the group of residents. Sharing facilities with singles , doubles households and families , households of different sizes, can enrich the lives of each of these households. The adults of these households all have more opportunities for contacts and development in their immediate living environment, and they all can get involved in the growing up of children. On the other hand the children can come into contact with multiple adults, and thus they can evolve more gradual into independend grown ups.  An aspect that can be anticipated in the design of a project. Like in the cohousing project in Hilversum , where teenagers can have a private entrance to their room. In the Danish project in Hillerød , " Saettedammen ", many teenagers have a stairway to the balcony of the first floor, where their bedrooms are situated. In the Danish project Tingsgarden (also mentioned in Part 1) there are completely self-contained rooms with a private entrance , which is included in the privacy of the " family group " of 15 households.
For the variation in household you may consider to:

5)   -combine houses of different sizes.
6)   -keep open the possibility a separate entrance for children who are becoming independent.

A private entrance for children in the Tingsgarden project in Denmark
Variation in age
The variation of different ages may be an enrichment . It enables older people to enjoy the naivety of children, who in turn, can benefit from the life experience of the older people, which may even apply to their parents. Thus, different stages of life may deepen and enrich each other .
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  Different life stages may enrich each other
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If you want to invite people of all ages consider to:
7)   -combine housing suitable for the elderly and housing for parents with children.
Variation in income and status
From the beginning, the Dutch ‘Central Living’ association has striven to make co-housing accessible to everyone who wishes to live in a collective; not only for those who could afford it, and not just for those with lower incomes . It should be a right for everyone. This might contribute to more understanding between higher and lower income groups, and bridge social inequalities in society.
To provoke a variation in status and income you can consider:

8)   -a mix of rental and owner-occupied housing.
(This can lead to a complicated situation at the point of decision making, but these complications are soluble, there are special rental and purchase contracts for development )
Variation in beliefs
Additionally, it may be interesting to vary in terms of beliefs  or convictions. Anarchists , Marxists , capitalists , Antroposophists, Darwinists and Christians , Buddhists and Taoists … the confrontation of different faiths can provide much food for thought .
The confrontation of different beliefs can provide a lot of food for thought

To my knowledge this variation is not often sought after. But it exists in one case that I know of, in the housing collective ‘The Carré’ in Delfgauw, where ecology , spirituality , and the pursuit of community florish together. This is an aspect that does not need to be reflected in the design.
Variation in social integration
Living in a collective housing project may have meaning for people who are shut out or who find it difficult to find a connection with society. Social life that comes along with the sharing of facilities may help people with mental health problems , victims of domestic violence, ex – drug addicts or ex-prisoners. They may feel safe in a group and that can help the mto integrate more in society. This is why some groups reserve a space to harbor and support these people temporarily. For the group , this may have a positive effect, because they come into contact with people that they normally don’t get to know.
This goal brings us to the following consideration:
9)   – take one or more support units in the design , which are suitable for temporary shelter, units that are the financial responsibility of the group.

How can you combine all these possible variations ? Let's assume a group or cluster of eight adults and a few children. Would it succeed if all the variations listed above where to live together in this group? A thought experiment. Imagine the group consists of two singles, a double and two household families. One single is an alcoholic, the other is a successful pop artist. The two-person household consists of two elderly people , one of them is anxious demented , while the other is struggling with a gambling addiction.
 Integrate all in a group
One family consists of a father who is a director working for a multinational, while his wife is a volunteer in a third world shop. One of the children is gifted and not motivated for any education, while the other wants to improve the world and develops as an environmental activist . The other family is deeply religious and wants to support people who cannot find peace and struggle to fit in society. In this group, that is an ex –convict, who temporarily resides in the supportunit. The children of this family are still in elementary school , where they regularly play truant.

 Maximum variation in a group , what kind of discussion, we can expect at the breakfast table?

If we aim for a maximum variation within a group , what can we expect here? Will our lives get more and more interesting and rich? 
Integration at higher levels
Variation may be a means of enrichment , but it may also be too much. So much that the participants have nothing to say to each other anymore. What is to do now? We also know taht living with like-minded people is much easier.
In larger projects , the integration of the different variations can be realised on social levels above the level of the group. Imagine four groups that share a 'courtyard'. Now we can provide more homogeneous groups. In the first group the focus can be on families and the education of children, in the second one the elderly people may focus on their reflection on the past and in the third group we may find idealistic young people and their commitment to change society, while the fourth group consists of yuppies with their experience of travelling all around the world. As an example.
These four  lifestyles have their own qualities and their own rhythm, but they can come together in the 'courtyard' and the elderly can contat the children , the idealists can discuss education with the parents, who can ask the older people for advice and the yuppies can tell about their journeys abroad. These groups only shares a courtyard , a garden with chickens , a playground and a barbecue area with pick-nick table , so the different lifestyles can be absorbed into a larger social structure without disturbing each other.
The same goes for ’courtsyards’ that may be caraterized by the interest in outdoor sports , travel, art, or politics. Different lifestyles that may find shelter in the general lifestyle of the entire project.

Not everything has to be thrown in the group when there are a higher social levels in wich the differences can be bridged
What I want to illustrate with this example is how different lifestyles can be connected without being intertwined too much. Thus, the advantages of variation can survive the differences. A concept that has been put into practice in the Danish project 'Munksogard' in Roskilde.

Munksogaard in Roskilde. Different lifestyles in different groups, integrated on a higher level. 

This is not a panacea for all problems that may arise. Something that deserves special attention is the temporary care for people with different problems. This requires a solid group, motivation and good preparation. Two considerations:

10)   – spread variation and integrate different life-styles in higher social levels.
11)   – be well prepared for temporary shelter.

Choosing new residents
In projects for communal living, the incumbent group chooses new residents. This sometimes leads to negative responses like ’Ah, balloting’. This is true, but also necessary. In the ‘Central Living’ project where I live myself, there once was a group that wanted to avoid this and they sais to newcomers: ‘Anyone who feels at home with us is welcome'.

   'Anyone who feels at home with us is welcome' 
Unfortunately, in practice this led to many problems . The conscious choice of residents is not a guarantee against this, but it can reduce the chances that problems arise. And what is against it after all? Isn’t this inherent to living in a house together. People who want to share a house with a partner have procedures that are a lot stricter than the procedures of a group , where candidates are invited for a meal two or three times! Assents are a necessary evil to get an idea of new residents: do they fit in the group and can they give some new input?
Assents make it also possible to search for specific types of households, regarding age , social status, beliefs or any social problems, it is possible to maintain the variation in the composition of the groups.
12)   -don’t be afraid of the word ‘balloting’ but try to estimate how new residents will join the existing group and what they could possibly add .
13)   – see this process as an opportunity to influence the variation of lifestyles in the project.

        3 What we can do together 

            And how we keep in touch

Shared facilities, which is what all forms of communal living have in common . But how do we go about it ? This is the final part of a series of three articles on issues that may be involved in the sharing of facilities in the atmosphere of living of interest.
Lack of spontaneity
At first sight, it seems that sharing facilities does not have much tot do with the design of a project. As long as they are there! You can just arrange how and when you use them. You can agree on cooking on terms and a sign-up when you join the group. For the use of the bar you can put up posters. And then there's always the computer, or the iPhone, to keep in touch with your neighbours.  What is there more to say?
May-be this: in the seventies a living experiment was set up in Hamburg , the so called 'Wohnmodell Steilshoop’. From the outside it looked like an ordinary flat , but the inside was designed for residential groups and communes. All in consultation with the residents. On the ground floor there were a nursery , a gym and recreational spaces and at the rooftop there was a meeting and conference room adjacent to the sunroof.
The nursery on the ground floor Meeting room on the roof
A brilliant experiment, but one thing was overlooked. If you came from outside, and you went home, to your commune, you could see nothing of the common activities on the ground floor, all of which were hidden behind closed doors. To know if there was something going on somewhere, you had to open all doors one by one.

Ground floor of the Wohnmodell in Hamburg . Open all the doors of the inner hallway to see if there is something going on behind . Or take the elevator to the meeting room on the roof.
For the general meeting room, annex bar, residents had to take the elevator up, to see if anyone was there. This setup only worked as everything was agreed on forehand … casual encounters , the possibility to have a look or to join an activity spontaneously, was totally discouraged by the design. A shortcoming that undoubtedly contributed to the early termination of this interesting experiment.
To know if there was something going on somewhere you had to open all doors one by one
Imagine that you come home and before you go to the elevator you pass the general meeting room, which perhaps has a terrace, children's rooms or the gym area. There you may see someone you know, or you are questioned by someone, and before you know it you've heard a story, your told your own or you subscribed for a meal or an activity. For this mechanism, think of your  holidays, when you walk along a variety of cafes and watching where you 'll press down. If you come home or you leave to do errands, the same can happen. Thus, the layout of a project may invite spontaneous encounters. But we must be careful here: when a route passes right between the tables, or through the common rooms, a conversation becomes a must. And you kill the spontaneity that you tried to evoke. Considerations:

14)   – care for a disclosure of the property along (and not through ) the public areas .
15)   – prevent common areas to be located at the end of a journey.


Not only in politics but also in everyday life casual contacts in corridors are important. If we look at a neighborhood , we find that people everywhere an opportunity for such conversations ‘by the way’. The line at the checkout , the laundry, the garbage can, people exchange thoughts anywhere, casually, also on all kinds of issues, also about what is happening in the neigbourhood. Thus they form a sort of a 'bottom up' opinion which may come into play one day.

In unexpected places people exchange thoughts and form an opinion 'bottom up' 

This mechnisme can also work in a project with shared facilities. Residents can have a chat next to the washing machines, the mailboxes, or in the garden where all can be discussed. Plans for a playground in the garden , the new decor of the bar , the authorization procedure for new residents , In all sorts of unexpected places people exchange thoughts and form an opinion about what is going on . No agenda , no chairman and no immediate consequences. All casually as they came for something else.
These kind of calls can be encouraged when there is a bench, a wall to sit on near the washing machines, in the vegetable garden, next to the mailboxes , and wherever something is taken care of. What stimulates ’s here is a view of something that can give rise to such a conversation.
Consider to:

16)   – provide possibilities tot sit down for a while, next to activities, so residents can exchange ideas casually.
17)   – if possible, with a view of something that can serve as lead to a conversation

Above two types of contacts are outlined : the more formal contacts when residents are strolling, and the more informal contacts in the corridors where opinions are formed ‘bottom up’. The latter may not be shared by everyone. That seems to be inevitable, but perhaps also beneficial. The tension between what is common and what might be better keep sus alive. But also tensions can build up. Fortunately, there is a third form of contact that can work as a lubricant here: contact with outsiders. They can come up with new perspectives , and thereby , they do not feel inhibited. Because outsiders are not aware of things that are sensitive , they can , express quite a bit like the Jester in earlier times. (As long as they remain polite, though!)
How can we imagine this kind of contact?
Suppose you want to go shopping in a mall in a nearby neighborhood. Here you are used to the fact that neigbourhoods are interconnected. You don’t have to leve your own neighbourhood before you can enter the nearby neigbouhood by a kind of main entrance. How different is this in our homes. Here we cannot use an interconnecting door that gives way to the living room of the neighbours. Here we must go out to the higher level of the street and ring the bell. But how is the situation when it comes to the livingroom of neigbouring groups in a cohousing project?

Outsiders are not aware of things that are sensitive , they can , as the court jester in earlier days, express themselves freely.
There are projects in which you can go directly from your own unit to the neigbouring livingroom. Thanks to a continuous inner hallway that connects the residential units with the common rooms of the neighboring groups. As in the living collective of Purmerend, see pictures below.

Ground floor of residential collective of Purmerend. The continuous inner hallway connects all units with all ten group rooms .
One point to consider is how big you want to be the group of outsiders. If all residents of the collective housing project may enter all the group facilities, that might be a bit too much, there is a chance that groups will tend to close up. Maybe outsiders from three or four neighboring groups is enough. This principle can also be applied on higher social levels.
To invite residents to casual contacts it is advised to provide leads to a conversation.

18)   – connections between a number of group areas, indoors, with a limit to the number of outsiders that have access to these connections.
19)   – the same principle used at higher levels .
20)    – leads to a conversation.

The archetypical American home has a porch. After work you can get some rest here, in a rocking chair with a newspaper and a drink at hand. From here you can view the street and, if desired , you can chat with passersby.

Verandas in fictitious cowboy town bordering downtown area ( Belgium )
This principle, 'porch life', can also be applied to other levels. Units may have a porch that opens onto the group area. These areas may have their own veranda or terrace, overlooking a communal courtyard . And this courtyard may also be provided with a porch or a threshold that gives a view, this time on the facilities of the street or the project as a whole. Finally, these facilities may have a threshold, a terrace, that offers a view of the life in the neighborhood.


Thresholds can work as a kind of glue between different levels


Thus, from the unit you can see what is going on group level, from here you can see what is going on courtyard etc. Conversely, this also works. From the level of the project you can look back at the courtsyards, from here you can look back to the porches of the groups and from here you can keep an eye on the porches of the units. So these thresholds can function as a kind of cement, ensuring consistency inside a project and a connection with the neighborhood .
What helps here again is something that can trigger a conversation can. A barbecue spot, rabbits in the garden, a water pump where children play …

21)   – a porch or threshold on different social/spatial levels
22)   – something that may trigger the conversation
Three kinds of casual contact
We have seen above, three kinds of casual contact , each of which have a different effect and different facilities. Because all this might be a bit confusing after first reading, I will conclude with a short summary.
– for the regular contacts between residents design the acces in a way that it passes the common areas, this for the stroll effect. 
– furthermore, think of spots, where resident can, casually, sit down and exchange ideas, and form 'bottom up' opinions.
– third, offer opportunities for contacts with outsiders. Here the acces can be used to connect more group rooms or courts.
To strengthen all forms of contact and to emphasize the coherence of a project can be thought of threshold as a kind of glue between different levels.

Dr Ir Philip (Flip) Krabbendam

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