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Cohousing communities are planned, owned and managed by their residents. They are developed by groups of people who want more interaction with their neighbours. Private homes, complete with full kitchens, are supplemented by extensive common facilities, such as a large kitchen and dining room[?] where residents can take turns cooking for everyone, laundry, gym and child care[?]. Through spatial design and shared social and management activities, cohousing facilitates interaction among neighbours, for the social and practical benefits. There are also economic and environmental benefits to sharing resources, space and items.

Because each cohousing community is planned in its context, a key feature of this model is its flexibility to the needs and values of its residents and the characteristics of the site. Cohousing can be urban, suburban[?] or rural. The physical form is typically compact but varies from low-rise apartments[?] to townhouses[?] to clustered detached houses[?]. They tend to keep cars to the periphery[?] so that people can use the spaces between the houses.

Cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1960s among groups of families who were dissatisfied with existing housing and communities that they felt did not meet their needs. It was introduced to North America by two American architects, Kathryn McCamant[?] and Charles Durrett[?], who visited several cohousing communities and wrote a book about it, Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves[?]. Several cohousing communities exist in Denmark and the west coast of the U.S.A, especially California. There are over 50 operating communities in North America with about 200 others in the planning phases. There are also communities in Australia, the UK and other parts of the world.

Cohousing differs from some types of intentional communities[?] in that the residents do not have a shared economy[?] or have a common set of beliefs or religion. There is no single leader, although various individuals do take on leadership roles, such as being responsible for coordinating a garden or facilitating a meeting.

It differs from condominiums[?] or co-operatives in that cohousing is a social structure while the other two are legal-financial structures. A cohousing community can also be set up as condominium or co-operative.

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