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

Donia Zhang


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.

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