Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Living Cohousing for real

Our first residents have now been living in cohousing for nearly six weeks. So I decided to ask them what they liked best about it. Warmth, both physical and human, was the answer. Oh and fabulous views, despite the building work still going on around them.

Living in an eco home

Huw says: After living in a Victorian house for the last 20 years, I thought cold draughts were a fact of life but our new passivhaus has none! Everybody who walks in asks us if we have our heating on as it feels so warm - we don't.

Miles says: We don't say: "put another log on the fire" we say: "invite another person round" -- their extra body heat will bump up the temperature in no time. These houses are machines for living, and there's a lot that's been learnt since Victorian times -- this is seriously impressive technology we're living in.

Mark says: There’s some lovely unexpected features in the houses, the staircase design works really well and helps make the living room more spacious than I expected and the sills are so big you can sit up on them looking out on the view – I always wanted a window seat! Inside is almost eerily silent – the heat insulation also insulates against the sounds of outdoors.

The view

Miles says: We love the view from our house (left). But even more we love the view as we walk from our house along the river.

Kathy says: The views are amazing. We look over the sedum roof of the Common House to the river Lune beyond. As a former hydrologist I have really enjoyed observing the changes in the flow of the Lune during the recent heavy rain, whilst confident (and reassured) that it will not come anywhere close to our new houses! The trees on the other side of the river have changed colour during the three weeks we have been here so I already feel more in touch with the seasons.

Mark says: My favourite moment so far was sitting on my deck at 11pm for half an hour with a crystal-clear sky and bright moon, watching its reflection in the river and on the autumnal leaves. It felt so Mediterranean. Magic. I’m planning to initiate a lights out festival once a year when we can all marvel at the night sky unpolluted.

The community 

Huw says: We all love the pedestrian street particularly the girls. Martha wants to rush out there in her pyjamas each morning and play with Polly.

Mark says: The pedestrian street has totally exceeded my expectations, wide and light, a real winner, with the evening sun coming in. What was most strong though was the sense of community. There’s such a great vibe here. I’m now planning an outdoor table and bench by the back door and expecting a few early evening post work beers there. It was lovely seeing the kids running, skate boarding and scootering up and down, no-one quite sure who was looking after them but everyone sure that someone was. I’ve been surprised that people are discreet and quickly learning when you’re up for socialising or not - I haven’t felt bothered once yet!

Fiona says: So far, I've made dinner on the terrace for a couple of other residents, my neighbours have hung my washing for me and let the telephone engineer in, and we have companionably taken the bins out together. I've used the car club car for the first time and have looked after another neighbour's baby while she was moving in. And I've helped carry lots of boxes from removal vans for everyone.

Gill says: Chats in The Street have transformed into an offer of a cuppa tea, a ‘Let’s all put the bins out after The Archers’ ended with us sharing a bottle of wine.

I’ve had Eliza pop around with her Mum to meet my cat; in fact I’ve had visits from all the young ‘uns on the street, whether it’s been Isla needing a quiet place to sleep, Polly to do a bit of dancing and Martha to just to check what I have in my pretty boxes (verdict: a bit boring).

Polly says: 'I love playing next door with Martha'

Kathy says: When I found myself with a just fallen asleep baby Isla amongst a flat full of bouncy older children I just carried her downstairs so she could enjoy her sleep in the peace and quiet of Gill's flat - you can't do that as soon as you move in to a 'normal' street!

I say that I am really, really jealous and cannot wait to move in. Living on my boat as the autumn sets in makes me long for that toasty Passivhaus, and I’m looking forward to all that human warmth as well.


** We still have one three-bed home for sale - please see our website for more details! **