cohousiThe medium-sized town of Lemgo with about 40,000 residents is seriously aging. Wohnbaugenossenschaft Lemgo (WBL) owns a large number of familyhouses, and has to deal with this problem. They took the initiative to explore a new way of living. On a vacant site they have worked with HSD architects on a ‘Mehrgenerations’ housing concept in the project Pöstenhof.
The idea of the project is to mix generations in a small scale courtyard building. Based on a first sketch a group of interested people has been selected to participate in de process of developing a cooperative housing project with rental apartments for mixed generations. The residents are very mixed, from young to old (0-81 years). There are 21 children in the project and multiple nationalities. The project includes a day care for the elderly, which is rented to a healthcare organization. This is used by residents from the project and from the neighborhood, who depend on the care of others, but still live at home.
The building consists of two buildings that are half open to the street. A raised gallery filters the access of the garden to a public entrance square. An important aspect of the project is the commonality. The wide corridors are orientated to the collective garden and function as important meeting places, along with the collective garden and a collective room on the ground floor.
The outside of the block is the private side. The architecture of the outer facade expresses the individuality of the inhabitants. The fragmented articulation of the volume also connects the building to the small scale of family houses in the surroundings.
The inhabitants of Pöstenhof commit themselves to contribute to a mixed-generations-living community. The residents have signed an agreement with the owner (WBL) to make it possible to regulate all new rentals themselves. They take care of maintenance in the collective areas and organize activities in the collective space. New candidates are selected by a committee of inhabitants. For the inhabitants it is important that new people choose for the concept , and not just for the house.
The project Karmeliterkloster in Bonn is a bit older and bigger. The project has been initiated by the architects: Fischer – von Kietzell Architekten on the site of an old convent. The project contains 70 housingunits in different types around a spacious garden to create an attractive mixed generations area. In contrast to Pöstenhof there is less mixture within the different building parts. Famlies mainly live in the rowhouses, seniors mainly occupy the apartment blocks. In the renovated part a collective meeting room has been realized that is used for all kind of activities, also accessible for people from the neighborhood.
The inhabitants that have shown us the project tell us that it is particularly this bigger size that attracts them. It creates more privacy and distance then we have seen in Pöstenhof. But at the same time the enclosed garden, the orientation of the houses and the way the project is organized creates a collective atmosphere.