What is CSO?

Introduction to the key elements of CSO Housing:

When asking yourself the question, weather CSO Housing might be something for you, find valuable information about CSO Housing projects on this platform. You can find relevant information of CSO Housing cases, from many parts of Europe, guidelines and check lists for those starting up. In the next overview, one can find the key relevant elements for CSO Housing. Distinguishing between CSO Housing projects that are initiated by the intended end users (inhabitants) themselves, vs those projects coming on the market from a business or local authority initiative. It provides a good structure on where to pay attention to, how to build up your community, and how to partner with the business partners during the development process.

A more historical description of the co-evolution of CSO Housing can be found here below:

A short history of CSO Housing:

The 1930’s were a time of modernization, with machines taking over intensive labour, and inventions like cars, airplanes and new trains reducing travelling time. In 1935, Scandinavian countries brought this modernism to the field of housing. New forms of collective housing were introduced with common child care, cooking and dining, and sharing household activities like groceries and laundry. The ideal was to increase employment of women and increase their participation in modern society (Vestbro, 1992).

After WW2 more and more people started to appreciate the idea to share certain amenities, and live together with peers. In the 60s, many free minded people started to adopt forms of living that included sharing of capital goods like housing, transport and more. Co-housing became a new phenomenon, living in a small community shaped according to democratic rules and standards. Communes are the most extreme variants, where participants agreed to give up a part of their autonomy for the sake of the larger community. Most communities adopted a certain set of guidelines to make life in a co-housing group social, beneficial and enjoyable, and based on the free will of individual members.

Most of the current collective housing projects, some with a very long history, have shown to pay a special interest to sustainability issues, Its members try to establish a green and healthy neighbourhood, grow their own crops, invest in renewable energy production, and reduce the ecological footprint by car sharing programmes etc. It makes these collectives a valuable contribution to society.

In the US, Canada and many Scandinavian countries, Co-housing initiatives have been particularly successful. Other western countries like Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, often adopted collective housing forms for specific target groups, like elderly for example.

In recent years, the CSO Housing initiatives have received increasing attention both in Western and Eastern societies. People seem to have a basic need to identify themselves with a group of peers, to be part of something, and to shape the conditions and environment to live ones’ life accordingly.

More information on the historical background of CSO Housing and the variety of collective housing forms can be found under history of CSO.


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