The benefits of ecovillages and retrofitted urban housing will be the focus of a University of Queensland researcher’s presentation at the Tiny Houses and Ecovillages seminar in Noosa this week (March 1-2).
PhD candidate and communal living expert Jason Hilder will share his research on shared living arrangements in ecovillages and intentional communities - planned residential communities designed to have a high degree of social cohesion.
“As populations grow and the demand for urban space exceeds capacity, ecovillages and co-housing are becoming an increasingly viable way of looking at modern housing,” Mr Hilder said.
“Having lived in and visited a number of intentional communities throughout Europe and Australia, I’ve noticed that shared living practices have been evolving for decades, particularly around urban centres in Europe and in some areas of Australia.”
“From these experiences, and my research, I’ve found that communal living improves social health and is more ecologically sustainable,” he said.
“Not only does it encourage more interaction, communal living requires us to relearn how to get along with one another and make decisions collectively and respectfully.”
Mr Hilder’s presentation will focus on the status of communal living in Australia and introduce a concept for transforming suburban structures into more sustainable and community-minded spaces through his concept, ‘Retrofitia’.
“Traditionally, ecovillages and cohousing are built on green field sites,” said Mr Hilder.
“The concept of ‘Retrofitia’ involves using a selection of existing homes and redesigning them to function as a connected community.
“We can truly transform what our cities look like, making urban centres more lively, environmentally-friendly and connected.
“And we can overcome some of our biggest social challenges, like community isolation and disconnection.”
While most Australian houses are built for single families, communal living is on the rise, with ABS statistics revealing a 42 per cent increase in the practice from 2006 to 2016.
This is coupled with a dramatic increase in housing costs around Australia; something Mr Hilder said ecovillages could address.
“These kind of living arrangements are incredibly cost-effective, meaning that it’s not only a win-win for society and the environment, but also for the hip pocket,” he said.
“It’s time governments, developers, planners and the general public seriously looked at incorporating shared living and ecovillage housing into our urban spaces.”
The Tiny Houses and Ecovillages seminar is being presented by Polkadot Community Inc. Association and will be held at The J Noosa over 1 and 2 March.
Topics will centre on ways to incorporate sustainable living practices into everyday life.