Cohousing – collaborative living in which residents participate in the neighborhood design – includes individual homes with shared facilities. The Mountain View community projects 19 individual condominium-style homes, a common garden and a common house for sharing activities and meals.
To fulfill their vision for the project, Mountain View residents Susan and David Burwen retained architect Charles Durrett, who has received awards for his designs of more than 50 cohousing communities. With his wife and partner, Kathryn McCamant, Durrett brought the concept to America from Denmark in the 1980s.
“From the very beginning of the cohousing movement in the late ’80s, there has been much interest in cohousing on the Peninsula,” Durrett said. “After nearly two decades, it’s finally happening.”
Several earlier attempts failed when the groups were unable to identify suitable and/or affordable building sites.
“Our objective is to build a place that reflects real values regarding not only quality of life and beautiful aesthetic design, but living more lightly on the planet,” Durrett said. “The Mountain View Cohousing Community will quite possibly be the most sustainable development in the entire Bay Area, for some time. Every green feature that we can muster will be incorporated into the fabric of the design.”
Ten of the 19 planned individual condominium units are already committed to buyers, and new members are actively being sought.
“Part of what makes cohousing attractive is that it specifically attempts to create a model that is close to the mainstream. It can be financed with conventional bank financing,” said Craig Ragland, executive director of the U.S. Cohousing Association. “With more than 230 communities already completed in America, it’s the next sustainable trend in housing.”
Mountain View Cohousing Community buildings will be energy efficient, and landscaping will be designed to present a green face to the neighborhood. Plans include organic gardens, fruit trees and a small greenhouse, with the preservation of the healthiest existing large trees on the property. The planting strip along the sidewalk and a landscaped walkway into the property will feature the trees.
“We’re planning an upscale, sophisticated design, one that will reinforce the classic feeling of the Old Mountain View neighborhood,” Durrett said.