June 2008 Housing Newsletter
by Nana Kirk, ASLA

Dear Network Members,

This is near the close of my first year as chair of this Professional PracticeNetwork. It has been an eventful year for me as network chair with theannual meeting last October falling practically in my back yard in SanFrancisco. It was a pleasure meeting some of you at the conference andnetwork meeting. As a network, we are a diverse group: we are bothprivate and public sector; students, educators, and professionals; someof us are involved in physical design while others seem to spend moretime negotiating the financial and political landscapes associated withcreating community. At the meeting, network members identified a numberof challenges facing their practice including: making affordable housingpossible amidst well-intentioned, but constricting regulatory frameworks;making sure that landscape architects have a role in creating guidelines forsustainable design; and arriving at clear standards for affordable housing.However, despite our diversity, all of you believe that we, as landscapearchitects, have a valuable role to play in creating communities.

To begin to reflect the diversity of backgrounds and interests, thisnewsletter includes an article that deals with financial issues in creating aparticular type of designed community, that of cohousing. For many of you,cohousing, a form of “intentional community,” may be a relatively new idea,but it has been popular in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries,since the 1970s. There are now hundreds of cohousing communitiesin the United States. Some are formed from existing physical housingarrangements reorganized to include shared spaces as well as privatedwellings, but an increasing number are environments designed from theground up.

Much has been written about the social aspects of this type of housing.You might recall a lively debate between Andres Duany and Clare CooperMarcus that appeared in Places Magazine a number of years ago regarding the merits of shared outdoor spaces inresidential developments. This is something that typically characterizes cohousing. (Places Magazine, vol.15, no 2, Winter2003 and vol.16:no. 1, Fall 2003.) Well, the article in this newsletter by Coho/US Research Director, Betsy Morris, ismuch more of a nuts-and-bolts approach to creating housing. In particular, it discusses some of the creative ways that thistype of community can be financed.

So, if you have any thoughts on this topic (or others), I would encourage all of you who are network members to log intothe Housing and Community Design e-community section of the ASLA web page to provide feedback and commentary.Or, feel free to bring up any other issues that personally affect your practice. (You can find instructions on how to do this at ecnav.pdf).

Best regards for a prosperous and happy 2008!

Nana Kirk, ASLA
ASLAChair Housing and Community Design PPN
Nana Kirk is an Associate at Environmental Vision and can be reached at: nanaki@well.com.

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Chair position open. If interested in this leadership opportunity, please contact Professional Practice Coordinator Alexandra Hay.