Building and housing is one of the most energy-demanding areas and accounts for approximately 40% of our CO2 use. In the DelBo project, we are taking a big step towards concretization and creating capacity for development by addressing what prevents the construction of shared housing on a larger scale.
We need new forms of housing that are social, sustainable and affordable - without compromising on quality. Shared housing has the potential to meet these needs and has attracted increasing interest from actors in real estate development. In the CoKitchen project, we have shown that shared housing can reduce CO2 by 30-35% in the construction phase, be 30% cheaper to build per person while at the same time increase community and a sense of home. But there are many obstacles in the way of shared housing becoming a reality.
What is shared housing?
By shared housing we mean apartments where three or more people over the age of 18, live together without being related, and share a kitchen, living room and bathroom. It can be student housing, a community or senior citizens' housing. A collective in a large apartment or villa is thus a shared housing, but where one person has a contract and the others become residents. Shared housing is not defined as a form of housing, which means that there are ambiguities regarding building regulations, fire regulations, rental regulations, etc. All of this needs to be clarified and updated in order for shared housing to become a safe form of housing for both the property company and the residents.
In Delbo, we focus on student accommodation, but the results will also be able to be used for other target groups such as the elderly, young adults or new arrivals. It is especially suitable for groups who have difficulty entering the housing market, who have suffered from involuntary loneliness, who have moved to a new place, or who have poorer financial conditions.
What is the best shared home?
There is a great need of knowledge about how a good shared housing should be designed. The classic student corridor, with 12-16 rooms and a small kitchen, is actually a shared home, but which works poorly. The long corridor with closed doors gives the feeling of an institution and the kitchen is too small for everyone to cook or socialize. The corridor has gained a bad reputation and for 20 years almost only one-room apartments have been built for students.
In DelBo, we examine how the best shared housing should be designed based on ecological, social and economic aspects. We conduct a study in Sweden and internationally, where we compile research and evaluate existing apartments for shared housing. We study six residences particularly carefully with in-depth interviews, observations and analyzes of floor plans. Questions we want answers to are: How many residences is a suitable group? How big should the apartment be and the distribution between private and common areas? How many people can share a bathroom? Should the toilet and shower be separate? How many people can share a kitchen and how should the kitchen be designed? Should the living room and kitchen be connected or is it better to share them? How do you create social belonging and community in a home? How do you avoid conflicts around cleaning and noise?
We also investigate how the accommodation can support sustainable habits such as recycling, eating more plant-based, reducing food waste, saving on hot water and electricity, hanging laundry and cycling. What are the barriers to sustainable habits and how do we change them? Based on these studies, we develop recommendations for how shared housing can be designed in the best way based on our target images of ecological, social and economic sustainability.
Policy and future workshops
In the next step, we will gather all relevant actors in workshops to map obstacles and opportunities for the construction of shared housing. Together, we map the obstacles that exist within policy, regulations and standards and then draw up a plan for how these can be changed to enable shared accommodation. These policy workshops take place in 2-3 iterations so that the participants have time to work on the issues within their respective organizations and create a plan for how the changes can become reality.
In co-creation workshops, we will look into the future and develop scenarios for future living and learning environments, which expand the project's horizons for what is possible. What will a campus look like in the future when all large lectures have gone digital? What do students want to keep and how do they want to study and meet? Based on these workshops, design concepts are created that investigate and expand the idea of how future shared living can look like, for different purposes and target groups, where the result are both scenarios as well as more concrete recommendations and guidelines. By developing scenarios for future learning environments, we also avoid creating lock-in effects in the new regulations.
Participating in policy workshops will be our reference group as well as all relevant actors such as the Housing Authority, the Tenants Association, the Fire Protection Association, experts in real estate law, industry organizations such as the property owners and student housing companies. We will also invite interest organizations for young adults, students and the elderly.
Implementation and testing
In the final phase, we will implement and test the recommendations and design concepts developed, in three shared residences.
Finally, we will document the work, with academic articles, a final report and seminar.