Marie-Estelle Carli et Ugo Simon, founders of "Folks",  coliving operators
Marie-Estelle Carli et Ugo Simon, founders of "Folks", coliving operators


Opinion piece : Coliving the world

Reacting to the isolationism caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, coliving come forth as a new way to perceive living together as a concept, and as as a new vision of collective dwelling as a growing experience.

This article was a part of issue 436 of AA - Working - , now available on our online shop.

by Marie-Estelle Carli and Ugo Simon

The current pandemic has forced nearly three billion people —almost half the world’s population— into lockdown, sorely testing the limits of the contemporary home. How can we rediscover, in the familiar layout of our own square metres, all the spatial and temporal interactions that used to make up our lives?

How can we inhabit our homes, rather than just occupying them? The feelings of insecurity, discomfort and isolation that affect 1 in 10 people in the developed world are all factors that influence our ability to feel at home. Pollution and social inequality have turned metropolitan life into a lonely, individualist pursuit. In the midst of this fragmentation, the forging of new kinds of local solidarity has become a necessity.

“How can we inhabit our homes, rather than just occupying them?”

The growing interest in coliving testifies to this need to cast a new light on our habitat through new experiences. This collective housing concept, inspired by 19th-century social utopias, first appeared in the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial community. Today, it is aimed at generations in transition, who are looking for flexibility and social connection. Coliving offers its residents access, of varying duration, to private rooms and shared spaces designed for relaxation, meeting and working. The operator then takes care of practical, administrative and event-related aspects.

Coliving is built around values such as everyday sharing, thinking collectively about needs, and supporting one’s community. We believe that these values should inspire a wider community to shop and consume locally, buying only what one needs and what the environment can give. While still in an early phase of development, coliving is far from being  a simple form of serviced residence. It has the potential to catalyse new thinking about mixed use and spatio-temporal sharing, starting with the distinction between the domestic and the professional. For many of us, the current crisis has been an opportunity to experiment with working from home. While this option depends on conditions and facilities that are not available to everyone, it is clear that working from home will continue to grow from now on. In the face of an uncertain future, innovations such as coliving will help us to build news ways of living together, so we can better inhabit the world.

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