Research

Students from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architectural Studies worked with Sheffield City Council and the Sheffield Cohousing Network as one of the 2014 Live Projects run by SSoA.

In the words of the the Live Project Team ” We worked towards developing a local approach to realising alternative housing models and increasing both accessibility to and awareness of this information, with a focus specifically on cohousing.

The client for our live project was Sheffield City Council, one of the few councils at the forefront of new development ideas in alternative housing. Another key stakeholder in the project was the Sheffield Cohousing Network. They were a valuable source of information and provided help and feedback on our work throughout the process.

After extensive research, we discovered that basic support was needed for people to understand cohousing. A key output was the production of a website condensing the information into a clear and accessible online resource. The website gives an introduction to cohousing, the benefits of communal living, and a step by step guide for implementation. This information has been distilled into leaflet form for the Council to hand out at upcoming events.

We chose a site set aside by the Council for development, to test out ideas and procurement strategies. Grounding the project in Sheffield allowed us to generate a more localised approach. We took part in a visioning workshop with the Sheffield Cohousing Network and used this insight to devise activities and workshops as part of an ‘activity pack’ that the Council can take forward and use to engage individuals in the community, testing local opinions on future projects.

It can be difficult for groups to negotiate the legal and financial aspects of procuring and constructing a cohousing scheme. We therefore opened a dialogue on cohousing between local specialists by hosting a stakeholder meeting. Participants included Sheffield City Council, an asset manager for the council, a housing developer and members of the Sheffield Cohousing Network. We used a matrix of cards to represent stages of procurement and compiled these into three routes that could develop mixed tenure projects. Alongside a notional site vision, this initiated a discussion to draw on various contributors’ expertise. The feedback and insight gained from the meeting has informed our research and proposals. The summary of this, along with our in-depth research, has been compiled into a document for the city council.”

The site set up by the team can be seen here.

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The home of the Sheffield Co-housing Network

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