“A man´s home is his castle. But demographic and economic changes have turned our castles into islands. How can we regain the elements of the traditional village – family, cooperation, community and a sense of belonging – within the context of 21st century life?”
Kathryn McCamant & Charles Durret in “Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities
The Collaborative Economy (or Resource Sharing Economy) that is making a revolution in several sectors, such as transport (Uber, Free2Move, Gira bicycles in Lisbon, …), tourism (Airbnb), as well as introducing new work concepts such as coworking – which emerged at a time of economic crisis and because, currently, many people do not need more than a phone and a computer with internet access to work, valuing instead (networking) – is also beginning to find solutions in housing, when there is a rise in real estate prices, which directly affect people’s quality of life, in a variety of ways; and in these challenging times of a pandemic, the prolonged confinement to which all of us were subject to, made us reflect on the “weight” of loneliness, lack of interpersonal contact and the occupation of time…
Cohousing consists of an intentional community of private dwellings, grouped around a common space that actually works as a complement to them. Each unit has a traditional structure, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically include a building – the “Common House” – which includes a kitchen and a large dining and living room, as well as a recreational space, among other divisions. Outdoor shared areas can include gardens, sports grounds, swimming pools, agricultural and forest areas, etc.
Families have independent incomes, lives and private spaces (hence the distinction from the concept of “commune”), but neighbors cooperatively plan and manage community activities as well as shared spaces.
The ultimate goal of cohousing cohousing is to bring residents together (rescuing the meaning of living in a real “neighborhood”, just like in the past!), reducing the cost of living, promoting the feeling of sharing and recycling finite resources. It will be a way to offset the alienation effects of the modern lifestyle where neighbors barely know each other and where day-to-day cooperation is practically nil. It offers special benefits for children, ein terms of the safety of their playground and sharing activities with other children; but also older people can find in these communities greater fellowship and mutual support in their daily lives.
The decision-making process is, whenever possible, carried out through consensus. Voting sometimes leaves a significant minority of people frustrated and marginalized. Consensus, on the other hand, is a decision-making process that contributes to the opinion of any member being taken into account and valued and the decisions taken are more easily accepted by the people involved.
One of the great advantages, in addition to the degree of social interaction, is that more than being an owner, one can have access to a wide range of goods and services, which in a purely individual context would be more difficult to achieve.
On the other hand, health benefits greatly in a cohousing community, since it is proven (Source: Towergate Insurance – UK) that people who live in isolation:
- Increase the risk of dementia and heart attack,
- They are more likely to smoke and gain weight, as well as to exercise less regularly,
- Increase the risk of depression by 80% (for people of working age).
The brochure presented here and produced by the UK Cohousing Network gives us a brief idea of what cohousing means.
Cohousing is more than a good idea! It is a conscious attempt to find a better way of living – for ourselves, for our neighbors, for our society and… for our planet! ☺
Why to choose
Loneliness is endemic and ruins modern society. A survey by the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission Commission found that over 9 million people in the UK (almost a fifth of the population) often, or always, feel alone.
Community interaction and shared life are characteristics of the cohousing model.
Carl Makin – GMHA (GreaterManchester Housing Action)
I’ve heard my friends say this, and maybe you’ve heard it too – or maybe you’ve even said it too: “We should live together when we get older!”
… a conversation between friends is often the beginning of a cohousing community …
Denise Logeland and SCAN Foundation
Living in cohousing is experiencing community life. But is it another form of “intentional community”? Yes, we think so, but with a different ownership structure.
… cohousing is a way for people to take a significant step towards community life, without, however, giving up their privacy or control over their private lives.
The Cohousing Handbook – Chris & Kelly Scotthanson
Cohousing is a lifestyle aspiration! We choose cohousing both for what it is and also for what we believe it can be. Cohousing increases joy and the will to live!
Cohousing Association of the US
“It takes a village to raise a child”.
African proverb with origin in Igbo and Yoruba tribes
ALTAR OF Nª SRA da Guia Chapel
FOOTBALL PITCH and the Furadouro Village
EUCALYPTUS FOREST North of the Estate
MANOR HOUSE FROM XVIII CENTURY – Facade and Main Entrance
“Quinta da Arroteia” is an extensive family estate, basically agricultural and forestry, located in the municipality of Torres Vedras, with a current area of around 11.5 hectares. It incorporates a Manor House (currently in ruins), believed to have its origins in the late 18th century, on the edge of the village of Furadouro, in the “União das Freguesias de Runa e Dois Portos”. This property was subdivided by lots, thus losing much of its original grandeur – it is said that in the 18th century, the Noblemen that inhabited it offered the village its Chapel.
It has a privileged location, about 10 km from Torres Vedras, 25 km from Santa Cruz Beach, 28 km from Ericeira (a famous surfing spot) and 50 km from Lisbon, being served (with a nearby exit) by the A8 motorway. Five minutes away, in Turcifal, is the DOLCE CAMPO REAL LISBOA (by Wyndham), a residential condominium which includes a 5* hotel, with an excellent golf and spa, among other amenities.
MAP (google Maps)
Torres Vedras is a city in the Center-West region of Portugal, with around 25,000 inhabitants and is also the largest municipality in the district of Lisbon www.cm-tvedras.pt, with 405.89 km2 and 83,130 inhabitants (2021 census), subdivided in 13 counties.
It ranked 22nd (in 2019) in the “Portugal City Brand Ranking” (by Bloom Consulting), an index that assesses the attractiveness of the 308 Portuguese municipalities to live, visit or invest.
It is a region of fertile land (the vineyard is one of the most representative activities), with a rich gastronomy, mild weather and good communication routes.
Torres Vedras is considered one of the “greenest” municipalities in the country, having won the ECOXXI 2019 award and has been once again recognized by its good practices and policies in the area of sustainability, placing itself in the top 5 of Portuguese municipalities in terms of ECOXXI index (a project by ABAE – Blue Flag Association of Europe).
“What has been noticed for many months… is that people started to look for houses with a different layout, with an office, with outdoor space and more contact with nature”
JLL in Expresso newspaper – January 21
The vision of the project under analysis had its origins in the subdivision carried out in the urbanized part of the estate in 2008. The construction of a condominium with characteristics different from the traditional ones had been foreseen for some time, namely with a higher degree of integration and interaction among its residents – almost as if formed by a group of friends who have known each other for a long time and who want to live close. It was a fortuitous (but privileged!) contact that led to the concepts and values underlying cohousing, thus contributing directly to a higher interest on the subject. This led to the decision of undertaking this project to transform a centenary Manor House into an intentional community, with purposes of sustainability and harmony of human relations.
After all, what will it mean to live at ArCo (“Arroteia Cohousing”)?
The first point to bear in mind is that this is not just “another” residential condominium!
Of course, the perspective of living in a brand new, comfortable, modern condominium, with ecological concerns (wood houses) and technologically advanced (efficient and renewable energy, composting and recycling of waste, etc.), green spaces (forest and gardens), organic community agriculture, children’s playground, sports facilities, with an 18th century Manor House, totally refurbished, with several facilities (semi-industrial kitchen, large dining and living room, wine cellar, library, guest rooms, laundry, …), located in on the edge of a small village, close (but not too close!) to urban centers (Torres Vedras 10 minutes away and Lisbon 30 minutes away), it is certainly pleasant!
But this is a unique condominium that embraces a concept: Cohousing! Where all the neighbors know each other (IN REALITY! That is, not just on a superficial way…!), each one carrying the commitment to pay attention to the others and to work together so that the small community of 24/25 homes evolves in the terms it had been proposed!
It’s worth taking a quick look at this vídeo of an American TV station PBS NewsHour on 2 cohousing communities (in Denmark – Saettedammen – close to Copenhagen, was the first in the world to be constituted in this way, with this stated objective, in 1972; the second one, more recent, is located in Massachussets, United States) – “COHOUSING COMMUNITIES HELP PREVENT SOCIAL ISOLATION” (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/cohousing-communities-help-prevent-social-isolation) – to get an idea of how cohousing can improve our lives!
Any household has its own private home as well as a significant degree of interaction/participation in community activities (although there are some desirable minimums to be met) that depends only on each one! There are no restrictions, however there are some rules in order not to distort the goals initially set!
Everyone should have their responsibility in the community management: either in organizing social and sporting events, collective meals, tourist promotion, library operation, accounting and finance, maintenance and conservation of estate, technical assistance, cleaning and tidying, monitoring children and the elderly, agricultural and forestry activities, etc! And all members will need to be part of the decision-making process whatever it is!
At this point someone will say: “But … this is just terrible!”
But if you chose to continue reading, it is because the idea of a community that supports each other, where everyone is valued for what they are and for what they bring to the group, where they have an active voice, seduces you somehow!
This is COHOUSING! And it has already significant expression in countries such as Denmark, where it emerged in the late 1960s of the last century and where currently around 8% of households follow this housing model. In other European countries cohousing is developing at a fast pace – in the United Kingdom there are already more than 20 communities established and functioning and more than 60 in the process of training and developing (on average, the period between the idea and entry into functioning of a community varies between 7 and 10 years; reducing this timeline is an objective of the present project). In Portugal, the concept is now beginning to be known (probably more in its senior variant) and to raise some discussion; it is very likely that this project is the first of its kind (intergenerational) to formally constitute itself as a cohousing, at least thought and developed as such.
Is this the kind of life I’m looking for?
Do I want to be part of a community that:
· Want to build a great place to live and enjoy a superior quality of life?
· Share the same values and encourages socialization among its members? (COMMUNITY FEELING & SOCIALIZATION)
· Care about each of its members? (COOPERATION & COMMITMENT)
· Make decisions together based on consensus? (OPEN COMMUNICATION, SEARCH FOR CONSENSUS)
· Provide collective meals once in a while?
· Understand when I need time to myself? (RESPECT FOR THE PRIVATE SPHERE)
· Value me for who I am and what I do? (EMPOWERMENT)
· Require a certain degree of commitment and dedication in order to preserve the current management of the community in accordance with the expectations created? (INCLUSION & AVAILABILITY)
· Share concerns about environmental sustainability? (ECO-FRIENDLY, LOW ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT, CIRCULAR ECONOMY)
· Allow children to play outdoors in total safety, in areas with no car traffic? (HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, SAFETY)
· Benefit from the sharing of a wide range of sporting and recreational equipment and facilities, drawing from it ecological and social advantages? (RESOURCES SHARING, FREE TIME VALUATION, SPORTS PRACTICE)
· It is located on the edge of a village but not far from an urban area? (OPENING TO THE OUTSIDE)
These are all questions that have to be properly considered and discussed among the members of the household, but if you answered “YES” to most of the questions listed, then you are on the right path, as it has already been realized that joining a project of this type is not the same as buying a traditional home! In fact, more than buying a home, you are joining to a new healthier and more inclusive lifestyle!
As a way to help you make a decision, you can research, through the links and resources provided in this website, information that will enable to understand and clarify the cohousing concept and its implications.