Getting Coliving Right

IKEA tells us about our preferences in shared housing.

More space for less money is always appealing, which is why coliving—sharing a large space with a group of people—is on the rise. What do people want and expect from shared living arrangements? Are development projects designed for coliving getting it right?

Co.Design associate editor Katharine Schwab explores these questions in “What Today’s Coliving Spaces Get Wrong.” She digs into to a report by IKEA’s research lab, Space10, which conducted a 2017 survey to discover people’s coliving preferences. More than 7,000 people from 147 countries responded.

The results?

  • Preferred group sizes for coliving are between 4 and 10 people.
  • The main motivation for coliving is for people to be social and to form meaningful connections.
  • People want to decorate private spaces and let designers furnish shared spaces.

Are coliving companies delivering on these preferences? The IKEA report suggests not. 

Companies like The Collective, WeWork, and Ollie are building large, fully furnished skyscrapers to accommodate hundreds of “coliving” residents. Schwab compares this coliving experience to sharing a giant hotel.”

“Based on the results of Ikea’s survey, it seems like no coliving company has really figured out the right balance between an economically feasible scale and a scale that favors human connections.”

How can design companies take coliving from concept to desirable reality? Schwab suggests they try to discover what people interested in coliving actually want, and design accordingly.

Coliving hasn’t been widely embraced in our city, but it does exist. Prairie Sky Cohousing Cooperative is an 18-unit coliving residence that was built in northeast Calgary in 2003. 

Learn more about coliving at Prairie Sky at albertaviews.

March 2nd, 2018

An Ikea survey has found out what people want out of coliving, but does this fit the coliving spaces companies are building?