It’s a housing complex built with collaboration and interaction in mind.
Cohousing – or collaborative housing – is when a group of people come together and form a development company to create their own housing complex. After six years or planning and developing, Saskatchewan’s second co-housing project — Radiance Cohousing — is complete.
“The project is led and managed by the people who will be living there,” said Radiance Cohousing co-founder Shannon Dyck. “They have a lot of input into the design of their own homes then the design of the shared spaces.”
“When people want community, it’s just outside their doorstep, but when they want their own privacy they have the comfort of their own homes,” Dyck said.
The nine-unit townhouse development project has more shared space than a typical housing complex.
Shared indoor space is referred to as the common house, which can be used for entertainment, a guest room or to share meals.
Outside, homeowners each have a garden plot as well as a shared garden area.
The complex has also been built to meet what are called Passive House standards and hopes to become the first co-housing development to achieve that certification.
“You have to meet 15 kilowatt hours per square meter per year or space heating energy and that’s 90 per cent less than a typical Canadian home,” Dyck said.
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“We don’t have furnaces we heat through the sun and through a little bit of electric heat and then just the heating that comes off of our appliances and our own body heat.”
The passive house elements of the project amount to about six per cent more than a typical build, but developers say the utility savings pay off long-term and the building is resilient.
“A lot of the science behind passive house started in Saskatchewan,” Dyck said. “This is a green building approach that makes sense in our climate.”
The housing model emerged in Denmark more than 25 years ago, now there’s hundreds of projects in Canada and thousands throughout the world.
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“It’s a model for building sustainable housing that can really take off,” Radiance Cohousing co-founder Michael Nemeth said. “Co-housing could really enable a lot more sustainable, mindful social development.”
Ultimately, the success of the project hinges on teamwork.
“We’ve all had to had patience throughout this process,” Nemeth said.
“Getting people to collaborate and creating spaces for collaboration and consensus, decision-making built into our processes. These are really important things that cause people to come together.”
There’s currently one certified passive house in Saskatoon.
Over the coming months, Radiance Cohousing will be going through the certification process.
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