Cohousing is the same concept at home as co-working is at work: sharing spaces for sharing ideas. The typical key concepts of business innovation of co-working, open space and knowledge-sharing are becoming objectives of primary importance, essential for re-thinking the work environment and for facilitating communication but, in particular, for breaking down the barriers of the individual and stimulating unforeseen opportunities and ideas. Thus, the workplace is changing in order to adapt to progress but what about the other spaces in our lives, which also define who we are? Those of affection, of leisure, of where we live? To live doesn’t only mean where we reside but above all to exist, to be present in the world with a specific perspective on the ways of the world not as automated individuals but as relational and social beings. COHO was born from these beliefs. It is an abbreviation of “COndivido quindi HO”, (“I share, therefore I have”) which invokes the concept of the sharing of space and resources to enhance one’s “capital” (improving quality of life, more meaningful social relationships, sustainable spaces and environments). The team of COHO professionals, which is animated by the most diverse skills, studies new ways of living and provides creative solutions for the social/building process, participated and shared, that focus on the reuse of existing, abandoned housing, which is economically and ecologically sustainable, and aims at improving the quality of life and social relationships. In front of a society that tends to marginalise individuals and in which the traditional family unit is breaking down, COHO promotes a re-actualisation of the model of community life, bringing back the intrinsic values of solidarity and sharing and facilitating the aggregation of people with different needs who are united in their search for a better quality of life, of their “one square metre of happiness” that is socially and environmentally positive. The values that transform that square metre from a simple unit of spatial measurement into a measurement of the quality of life are sharing, collaboration, solidarity, socialisation, mutual support, easy access to services, and respect for the environment. Sharing is one of the possible answers to current social and economic problems, as well as to the different needs of the new family model. Cohousing, for example, is both a tool through which to get a low-cost home and also a way of having a better quality of life, thanks to the support of selected friends and neighbours, while still maintaining one’s individuality and rhythm of life. It is not just about simply using common spaces but sharing resources, time and emotions, responding to the needs of the community through one’s own possibilities and skills, finding help in others to resolve one’s own daily problems. Anyone, regardless of their economical, social and cultural extraction, can join this way of life, making their own skills and experiences available to others. It is a process that will inevitably lead to the construction of a new social knowledge, to the definition of new roles, to the negotiation of differences and conflicts. COHO aims to facilitate this journey of aggregation through an approach of listening, of training and of participatory planning. The COHO team also envisages the application of this approach in the context of work and urban living. WHO ARE WE? Federica Montali

written by: Federica Montali , 12 March 2014

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