Codesign community house


Six of the ten builders/families who will live in Husebybergen attended a workshop aimed at designing their community house. It was a full day where residents and architects step by step together got to know the codesign method and learned the basics and simulaneously learning-by-doing shaped the house and build it in model. The community house will be built with the same wooden construction method that most of the residential houses will later have, so that people can learn the basics before building their own house. The group together went through three steps in the design process:

1. Qualities and problems/challenges on the site

We have a model in scale 1:250 of the entire site and an aerial photo/map in scale 1:20 where the community house will stand. We go through all the site’s qualities and problems/challenges that the participants noted on the site for the community house a few days before. Before the workshop, the participating architect has written all this down on small post-it notes and put them on the aerial photo/map. Green for qualities, red for problems/challenges. Gradually, the workshop leaders open up for the builders so that their views on qualities and problems come to light. Thus we are shifting the balance of power over to them, asking what they think, they should feel clearly that they have the right to describe the site as theirs. When we are done, all builders have a clear picture of what the site looks like and what qualities and problems/challenges it has according to the collective. We photograph the aerial photo/map with all post-its as documentation. We also record the conversation in case we need to go back to what was said.

2. Functions to be accommodated in and around the house

Now we think functions, what should the community house accommodate? We include all the features that people want, that is, even those that might end up outdoors. Note all the funtions on yellow post-it notes (one funtion on each). The functions emailed from builders that could not participate today are also written down on yellow post-its. Then the builders put the functions in order of priority and the functions are numbered. All functions are thus included, but the ones that end up last may not be possible to realize, it depends on the budget and other conditions. When we are finished, the builders have decided which functions will be accommodated in and around the community house. We have also talked a little about how they can relate to each other. We photograph the row with post-its as documentation and record the conversation.

3. What should the house look like, what should it ”say”, aesthetic expression, building model

Now we will shape the house three-dimensionally. The idea is that the builders should feel safe in taking command over the house design. Feel freedom, dare to try. Talking about design, what kind of architecture do they like?

  • We have the aerial photo/map in scale 1:20 on a large table. The red and green post-its on it remain.
  • The builders lay out the house’s functions (yellow post-its) on the aerial photo and thus begin to shape the house and its surroundings.
  • Workshop leaders support and answer questions. We try not to limit the imagination of the builders, for example by refraining from ”professional expressions” or saying that something is difficult or expensive).
  • Once the functions are in place, we begin to shape the foundation, walls and roof, using the model building material (in scale) that was prepared before. We have also prepared with model materials that can illustrate rocks, grass, trees, bushes, water, etc.
  • Workshop leaders encourage the builders to think about the inside and outside of the house at the same time, inspired by the picture with the vase and two faces. Both have their own existence, both need to be designed with equal care, they should fit together but neither should be superior to the other.
  • Workshop leaders also encourage the builders to feel free, to play and to try new variations.

At the end of the day, we had a model of how the functions shaped the house, how the house was located on the site, how the house shaped the surroundings – and vice versa. The model in itself was the documentation but we also noted details in the conversation so as not to forget important aspects and details. After the workshop, an architect made drawings of the house, including checking details that needed to be reviewed. The model and drawings were after that presented for all of the other builders/families and further developed including their knowledge and opinions. The plan is to cobuild the community house during 2023, possibly with the help of one of the cobuilding courses that Egnahemsfabriken gives regularly. The house will be moved to Husebybergen when it is ready. 

Autumn 2023: The construction process starts

Luckily, the construction of the community house got a boost thanks to a course that Egnahemsfabriken carry out together with Billströmska folkhögskolan: We build together. The course participants study self-construction on full-time for one semester. Two days a week they are at Egnahemsfabriken and learning-by-doing they realise Egnahem för alla’s community house. A practical work led by Egnahemsfabriken’s carpenters but there are also elements of lectures, for example on how to renovate old windows. The windows that are renovated in the course to learn the craft are then used in the house which has been designed for this reuse. The house will then be moved to Orust. There, the orangery will be built on site. The residents of Egnahem för alla are responsible for the major part of the material costs and the course add working hours for free. A win-win situation. 

Codesign of residential houses