Cooperative Housing and Cohousing in Canada: The Pursuit of Happiness in the Common Courtyards


This paper investigates residents living experience in the common courtyards of cooperative housing and cohousing in Canada, and their sense of happiness associated with it. Cooperative housing as a form of social housing established in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as early as the 1910s. Cohousing as its subsequent name has evolved into a global movement since the 1960s, to promote residents sharing and caring for one another through active participation in community lives and cooperative management. A key feature of this housing is the inclusion of shared spaces, such as common courtyards. This research explored what make residents happy and/or unhappy in the common courtyards, and how to improve their living experience in the common courtyards. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 residents in three cooperative housing in Toronto and three cohousing across Canada. The findings suggest that the Courtyard is a central component to promote social happiness of residents. The paper contributes to the topic of Housing and Happiness that is rarely studied. It finally proposes a courtyard garden housing system that can be a template for universal application. The main conclusion is that there is a need for more courtyard configuration in contemporary Canadian urban planning and architectural design to promote community development.