There is a broad sweeping trend across the globe to decrease our human footprint, and it is changing cityscapes and the way our communities are planned and implemented. Cohousing communities, which are intentional and collaborative neighborhoods, are founded, planned and designed by the residents that eventually live within the spaces. More often than not, they are strategically designed to create innovative spaces that are not only environmentally friendly, but also provide a more economical and community driven lifestyle for their residents.
North Carolina is home to six of the 130 cohousing communities in the United States, with 10 more new neighborhoods underway according to The Cohousing Association. The most recent project completed in North Carolina opened its doors in 2014 in the heart of the City of Medicine, Durham, NC. The Durham Central Park Cohousing Community (Durham Coho) sits off of the south side of Downtown Durham on the 100th Block of Hunt Street and offers 24 private units in the 60,000 square foot building with shared community spaces for gatherings, both as a community and private gatherings, shared laundry facilities, garden spaces and an open roof-top terrace, as well as two guest bedrooms for visitors.
The building, and the shared community atmosphere, recently recognized by the Triangle American Institute of Architects (AIA), was presented one of three prestigious Honors Awards in April of this year. Weinstein Friedlein Architects, local to the Durham area, worked hand-in-hand with 26 of the co-founding residents to create the shared community concept, which involved far more than simply creating a beautiful building. The residents and architects had to make conscious decisions about how the community would operate as a whole, including utilities, shared spaces, common needs, and more. Even further, the residents and Weinstein Friedlein had to make sure the design would support the goals of the Durham Coho residents, allowing the neighborhood to function together as a group rather than individuals.
These key decisions made this building an economically and environmentally friendly place to call home. As a part of this, the community and The Wooten Company worked together to install a variable refrigerant volume HVAC system with energy recovery ventilation on each of the four floors and to connect the entire building system to a single meter rather than individual systems for each unit. Solar thermal panels and intelligent lighting controls were put in place throughout the building to take the building a step further in its sustainable mission.
In the end, Weinstein Friedlein Architects, the residents and The Wooten Company successfully created more than just a ‘condominium building’, but an atmosphere geared towards growth, friendship and teamwork. In fact, the building so impressed Will Bruder, the lead architect of the AIA awards jury, that he moved into Durham COHO.
Congratulations to the team for their hard-earned recognition!