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As part of our design process of our cohousing scheme in our most recent design project, we organised and participated in a codesign exercise within our course group. In this blog I’m going to talk about how we organised our exercise, interpreted the results and


The first stage in running our exercise was done as a group, with each of the twelve participants creating a character based on pre-determined archetypes that were representative of a cohousing scheme. These archetypes were agreed as a group based on our research into cohousing schemes as well as our recent visit to Lancaster’s cohousing scheme. Following this we each took one of the archetypes and created a backstory for our chosen person including name, age, marital status, professional status, hobbies and the reason for wanting to live in our cohousing scheme.

Shortly before codesign session began, each participant selected a character at random and from there would assume that person’s role, taking the point of view of that character in each of the six exercises which followed.

Participants taking part in the cohousing codesign exercises.

Our exercise

In our exercise we were looking to find out what communal facilities people would prioritise to have in their cohousing scheme given a choice between eight key facilities. Each facility was represented on a foam board sheet and each participant given a number of coloured pins which could be inserted into the board to express their views on each facility. Every participant had one red pin which they could place to denote their highest priority facility, an optional blue pin to denote a facility which they considered an extremely low priority and then any number of yellow pins to denote facilities which they considered particularly important (though not their highest priority). The intention here was to get many pins on the board in order to get a wider range of results to analyse.


Our codesign exercise board following the activity (NB. Green pins represent blue pins and white pins represent yellow pins)

Analysing the results

From our results we wanted to be able to put the facilities in order, based on how the participants had assigned their priority facilities. To do this, I translated the different coloured pins into a point system with any red pin counting as two points, yellow pins counting as one point and red pins as a minus point.

Our final results table

From our results it was clear that guest rooms were the highest priority across the board with a playground and allotments also high on the collective agenda. At the bottom of the priorities list was a communal laundry area, followed by a food store and rentable flats.


Looking at our results I believe that making the yellow and blue pins optional rather than compulsory may’ve been a mistake. The red pins (which every participant had one, compulsory choice with) were perhaps the most useful and by making the system a little more restricted it would’ve given a greater range of results overall with fewer participants placing fewer pins and with every participant having the same affect on the results, making it fairer. Looking at the final priorities I think the results are generally quite good with the exception perhaps of the communal laundry area being a low priority. In reality this would be a necessity in most cohousing schemes as it would be both impractical and somewhat unnecessary to have laundry facilities in each individual house. As for the food store however, despite being a major amenity in Lancaster’s cohousing scheme, in the city centre location of our proposal it would be significantly less necessary.

All images author’s own




School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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