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Do-It-Yourself: The Stony Road to Cohousing in Sweden

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In Sweden, more and more households are forming groups in order to create their own housing together. They look for a new way of living where they can take responsibility for their own situation in cooperation with their neighbours, based on mutual support, self-governance and active participation. The process of planning and designing together is unfamiliar, both for start-up groups and for property owners, developers, builders, consultants and municipalities. Tools and techniques for group-initiated projects are lacking. Knowledge about how to design common spaces is scarce. Over the long history of cohousing developments in Sweden, associations and institutes have emerged to advocate for and support the formation of cohousing groups. Numerous research projects have also been funded, although sporadically. These have collectively produced a variety of informative publications and provided encouragement and support. Despite this, the road to realizing cohousing in Sweden remains less than smooth. This article draws on the authors' decades of experience in the sector to distinguish the distinct phases of cohousing in Sweden, the differences between which are often overlooked, and asks why the road to realization remains rocky. Lessons from these past experiences can inform future cohousing projects both in Sweden and abroad.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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