It may be the only good thing to emerge from the 2008 financial crisis. What do the first families to settle into Cambridge’s new co-housing development make of multigenerational living?
Oliver WainwrightLast modified on Wed 8 May 2019 14.57 BST
Imagine a world where homes were built according to the needs of residents rather than the profits of house builders, a place where land was allocated with the best long-term value in mind, rather than flogged off to the highest bidder, and where politicians’ claims of “creating communities” actually rang true.
It might be something like Marmalade Lane in Cambridge, where some innocuous-looking rows of pitch-roofed brick homes represent the quietly radical result of the city’s first co-housing development, almost 20 years in the making.
Look closely and you’ll see signs that this is no ordinary developer-driven estate. Where you might usually find parked cars is instead an open, pedestrianised lane where kids’ chalk doodles cover the tarmac, along with a Swingball pole and football goalposts, emphatically claiming the street as a place for play. The back doors of one side of the lane face the front doors of the other – a sinful breach of privacy in any planners’ textbook, while a large swath into which you would have expected more houses to have been squeezed has been left as grassy open space. These are subtle things, but they make it feel like a place where the neighbours might know and like each other, rather than wanting to retreat behind ever higher fences.
“You either love or you hate co-housing,” says resident Jan Chadwick, 66, as she flicks through the community’s various working-group agendas on her phone, covering everything from cooking rotas to gardening duties. “With one daughter, and no desire to become dependent elderly parents, my husband and I saw it as a potential solution to ensure we stayed interested, lively and engaged in our community, now and during our twilight years.”
She is sitting in the common house, where an airy double-height dining room gives on to a cosy seating area around a fireplace, and large hatch leads to a fully-equipped catering kitchen, where the day’s vegan lunch is being prepared. It has the air of a lively hostel common room, with children zooming in and out through the patio doors while others scamper upstairs to the yoga and ping pong rooms.
This oasis of 42 homes is something of an anomaly, standing in marked contrast to the conventional suburban streets of the Orchard Park estate around it, where drab blocks encircle cul-de-sacs of cars. This site would have ended suffering a similar fate, were it not for the 2008 financial crisis.
Marmalade Lane: the car-free, triple-glazed, 42-house oasis | The Guardian
It may be the only good thing to emerge from the 2008 financial crisis. What do the first families to settle into Cambridge’s new co-housing development make of multigenerational living? Oliver WainwrightLast modified on Wed 8 May 2019 14.57 BST Imagine a world where homes were built according to the needs of residents rather than… [Read More]