Shareable life: Design of co-housing for promoting community living in Helsinki

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Co-housing, with the benefit of providing social support and reducing urban loneliness, is a concept that is gaining wide acceptance worldwide as an alternative type of living and a component of the social welfare system. However, this type of housing is still in a rudimentary and experimental stage in Finland. This thesis studies the essentials of co-housing from both tangible (architectural design) and intangible (e.g. social and economic) perspective and proposes a co-housing project aimed at promoting community living in the Finnish context. First, this thesis defines the terminology of co-housing and introduces the history and development of the practice both internationally and in Finland. Next, I present five case studies on projects, with similar urban contexts and building types, in order to analyse the essential architectural dimensions of co-housing. Further, I introduce qualitative data in the form of semi-structured interviews with seven experts to discuss topics including the benefit of co-housing, the demand in Helsinki housing market, regulations of Finnish housing policy, and requirements for maintaining the activeness of a community during occupancy. Based on the research results, I propose a co-housing project in the Meri-Rastila area of eastern Helsinki as one possibility for the ongoing renewal plan for that suburban area. The proposal emphasises three characteristics of co-housing design, that it is open, shareable and multi-generational. This is achieved through the planning of the site, the arrangement of the shared space and the mixture of versatile apartment types. Thus, the study aims to create an alternative example of types of living in the Finnish dwelling context and provides a possible scenario for future research on the relevant topic.
Ahlava, Antti
Thesis advisor
Nieto, Fernando
co-housing design, community living, Helsinki housing research, multi-generational housing, shared spaces, Meri-Rastila urban renew plan
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