The Prairie Hill cohousing community off of Miller Avenue in Iowa City hosted their open house to introduce young and old to the idea of community living. Cohousing was started in Denmark and revolves around a community, usually made up of several living spaces, joined together by several communal spaces such as gardens or a shared living space.
Iowa City Cohousing will combine 36 homes with nearly four acres of orchards and gardens, as well as shared open space and a communal building in the center. Several units are already finished and have tenants in them, while others are being finished this fall. The project kicked off in 2008 by trying to find the right frame and idea for the project. An LLC was formed soon after, giving all residents the ability to be part of the communal process and make decision concerning construction, architects and new projects. Today, a homeowners association is involved in decision making as well, as all residents enjoy equal rights.
"It's built by the people who plan to live there and reflects their values so we as a group have a lot of environmental green values," Del Holland, one of the first members of the community said.
Sustainability is an important part of the cohousing concept. While all houses are designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, including the option for solar power and energy star heating and cooling, the biggest impact is made when the community shares resources. Holland explains the concept using the communal woodworking shop as an example.
"We'll have a table saw there, there are several members who already have table saws of our own it's silly to have multiple table saws when one serves multiple people," Holland said. " It's so great to be able to be a model of a more sustainable way to live."