Collaboration is an undeniably valuable workplace practice — we’re working better and we’re working better together.

So what if we lived better together? What if collaboration wasn’t limited to our professional lives, but in some way, was replicated throughout our homes? What would that look like?

The co-living movement

Born out of an idea to create a living environment that inspires and empowers residents to engage and participate with each other and their greater communities, the co-living movement aims to cultivate collaboration and openness.

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Shared terrace at Oracle Apartments

It seeks to provide a housing option that allows people to share their living space — affordable housing that builds communities and promotes more sustainable living.

As a result, it’s building communities of like-minded individuals and empowering them to participate in a world where technology draws a fine line between connecting everyone and simultaneously alienating them.

By redefining how people live and share, co-living is an embodiment of our cultural shifts — namely, how we interact and collaborate.

What does this mean for architecture and design?

Although the overarching purpose is the same, there are many variations between designing traditional houses and living spaces intended for several, likely unrelated, individuals.

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Understanding the intended lifestyle of a co-living community is critical in formulating its design. How exactly will the sharing happen? What will be shared? Will meal times be flexible and autonomous, or will the community engage in shared meals each day? Perhaps it’s something in between?

Narkomfin in Moscow is a shared living complex with collective facilities and private sleeping ‘cells’. Shared amenities include a laundry room, gym, library, and a central kitchen/dining room, and members share meals every single day.

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On the other hand, Centraal Wonen De Hilversum Meent, in The Netherlands consists a series of private dwellings clustered into small groups with some shared facilities, such as a garden, kitchen/dining/living room and laundry. Meal times are more flexible, with each cluster eating together from two to five times per week.

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Centraal Wonen De Hilversum Meent

Either way, architects and designers need to grasp just how these spaces will be shared prior to imagining just how they will look and function.

Times are changing

We’re in a period of experimentation, and co-living is producing many new health-related, community-related and sustainable benefits.

Like collaborative workplaces, collaborative residential designs are fostering subtle, everyday interactions and relationships, thus, building stronger communities.

It’s an incredibly interesting time for architecture and design, particularly as we negotiate a stream of changing values and redefine what it means to share.

Collaborative spaces aren’t just for the office or home — our public spaces are harnessing designs that encourage community interaction. Learn more in our report ‘The Future of Public Design’ here.