Co-housing information session April 24

Since 1964, when Danish architect Jan Gudmand-Hoyer first gathered a group of friends to discuss supportive living environments, the international co-housing movement has spread across Europe, landed on both coasts of North America and made gradual inroads to the Midwest.

In St. Louis, a handful of co-housing projects are now in development, including “Village in the City,” scheduled to open in the University City Loop area in 2004.

The project involves several members of the University community, notably co-founder David Felix, professor emeritus of economics in Arts & Sciences; and Jana Pereau, adjunct associate professor in the School of Architecture, who is helping design the facility’s distinctive “commons” areas.

On April 24, Village in the City will host an information session about co-housing from 5-6 p.m. in Lambert Lounge, Room 303 in Mallinckrodt Student Center. The session will feature an update on the Loop project as well as a short PBS documentary about co-housing.

Pereau, former director of architecture’s Community Design Center, has long explored the nexus between housing, community and cultural values. She explained that co-housing helps to foster and promote a sense of connection between residents by locating individual living areas in close relation to extensive shared facilities for both work and leisure activities.

These are the areas where “residents can share optional meals, games, gardening tasks or other group activities — including child care — and where elders can stay involved and active as mentors to adolescents,” Pereau said.

“Our houses provide the places where we nurture our most important social relationships: where we form families, raise children, entertain friends, interact with neighbors and build communities,” Pereau added.

“Vital and active communities are places where people meet, talk, work and play, forming a larger social network in which children are nurtured, the sick are cared for and elders are supported.”