Cohousing Experts to Tout Growing Trend

Cohousing Experts To Tout Growing Trend

Local Group Active In Shared Space Concept

Posted: April 25, 2014

HARRISONBURG — A group of area residents are ramping up their efforts to develop the Valley’s first cohousing community by inviting two of the leading U.S. architects of the concept for a weekend of events.

Harrisonburg Cohousing, as the group of city and Rockingham County residents is called, started meeting in spring 2013 to discuss a cohousing initiative. That type of development gives residents an active voice in the design and operations.

Projects often feature a common house that may have a kitchen, library and laundry area, and they are also marked by shared open green space and walkways connecting privately owned, fully equipped homes.

In hopes of expanding interest in the concept, the group will host cohousing architects Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant, both of California, for a presentation on May 16 and workshop May 17-18.

The presentation, at Eagle Carpet on Port Republic Road, is open to the public; a $10 donation is suggested. It will feature examples of cohousing communities around the country.

The workshop, which is capped at 30 people, requires registration: $350 per person and $450 per couple before Saturday, and $400 per person and $500 per couple after that. It will be held at The Gathering Place on Mount Clinton Pike and explore all aspects of creating a cohousing neighborhood, from site identification to financing and the design process.

City resident Carina Young, an active group member, said the price is “challenging” for locals, but she promises the information to be provided will be worth it. She’s expecting people from as far away as Philadelphia to attend the workshop because they want to introduce cohousing to their area, and Durrett and McCamant aren’t on the East Coast often.

“At least in North America, there aren’t any better consultants,” Young said.

If people can’t attend the workshop, she is hopeful the presentation at least draws a crowd, including developers and architects.

The group does not have land secured for a community and may need about 5 acres, Young said. The size of the property and number of houses to build are unknown parts of the project that may be answered after next month’s events.

“It takes less land than people think,” Young said.

The recent concept of cohousing started in Denmark and trickled into the United States in the 1980s, according to the Cohousing Association of the United States. Blacksburg has a community and several more exist around Washington, D.C.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or

Want To Go?: For more information about the May 16-18 weekend event,  or contact Carina Young at 434-4959.