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Transition of ‘Co-living concepts’ across history

Co-living might be a new word, but it has been inherent in every human's way of living across history that…

Co-living might be a new word, but it has been inherent in every human’s way of living across history that has made the concept applicable and agreeable by the majority.

The inherent social factors tracing back to ages

It is impossible to ignore the fact that social way of living is inherent in human beings. Everyone from the men of stone ages till the civilised men preferred a ‘social way of living’ that came with a natural sense of belonging and safety.

1. Early men and the beginning of Co

Going back the timeline, we realise that early men gathered to share food along with communal bond, in a common community place that the modern-day campfires mimic. That could be contemplated as the earliest evidence of the strength of communities.

2. Across cultures and geography

While medieval villages too followed a similarity in human settlements to that of early men, the religious era which separated the devoted population brought newer needs specific to the monk lifestyles. Religious cults, monasteries and other community spaces, amidst being the away-from-the-common-life living, were self-contained with the essence of community similar to the villages.

3. Boarding houses for the migrants

In 19th and 20th century, the rise of boarding houses dominated the cities that saw new immigrants. Being the dawn of the Industrial era where people shifted to cities in search of better opportunities, boarding houses accommodated the people. Although seeming like a perfect predecessor of the co-living concepts, these lacked the comfort factor. Yet, the user specific approach was seen amongst spaces that encompassed houses specific to women, orthodox groups and more, along with helping them in ‘fitting in’.  A boarding house named ‘The Bella Jar’ housed women who were new to the cities offering them a space prior to a long-term property search. A London based ‘shared living space’ called ‘Isokon’ introduced a shared common space along with workspaces, very similar to the today’s co-living space ideas.

It was rightly said “Boarding houses – the transient nature of life.”

Wendy Gamber, The Boarding House in Nineteenth-Century America

4. From World war to Co-housing of 60s

During World war, men stationed at different places, the immigrants etc. demanded a housing solution that could act both physically and psychologically as a home. ‘Community kind of living’ that also met the economic constraints prevalent in that time was promoted by the Modern Architectural Research Group (MARS). These spaces acting as a surrogate family with its built-in community evolved as co-housing spaces where people including families shared common activities such as dining, celebrations and even housekeeping duties evolved.

Though Cohousing and Co-living concepts overlap, a clear demarcation is brought in by the privacy and ownership factors. While Co-housing has private individual house units where permanent ownership is owed to the individual owner, co-living has independent house-like units where the ownership is temporary. This brings the response to the transient life of the people of today, ultimately bringing workable priorities such as cost-efficiency and flexibility. This had us land on a world with the tiniest units ever, where houses are no more the key emotional attachment because the entire generation is on the go. 

Mixed communities of today.

A mixed community of Coders, Coaches, Designers, Freelancers, Bloggers, Vloggers, Instagram influencers, Software Engineers, Project Managers, Social Media Analysts, Entrepreneurs, and every new ‘professional category’ of millennial is housed in this new approach to dwelling styles, where they share like-mindedness along with a common futuristic vision towards both life and lifestyle. This ultimate place where they need not compromise on either work or life is perfect to embark their success route in the new location.

There, the community way of living saw its first traceable history, paving way to the successor – Coliving. Thus the foundation of the urban co-living was laid in the millennial era.

HyLiv, being the tailor-made coliving spaces take succession over every Coliving idea that has emerged till now. Explore more.

Akshaya Muralikumar

Akshaya Muralikumar, A graduate architect turned writer with an eye for detail and lookout for experiences & stories. Being "An Architect of Thoughts", she has had her thoughts transform into words across multiple blog and magazine platforms on Construction, Architecture, Interior Design, Hospitality and allied subjects.

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