As part of the plans to redevelop the Holloway Women’s Prison site a group of us aim to create a Cohousing Community of some thirty households. This would be a key part of the overall development of 1,100 homes and community facilities, including the Women’s Building. Cohousing can help to build a shared sense of community more widely – contributing to the development of sociability amongst the new tenants and leaseholders together, on this amazing site.

So what is Cohousing?

This video presentation from the Holloway Cohousing group explains the concept

Part 1 view here

Part 2 view here

Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained private home, as well as shared community spaces. Residents come together to manage their community and share activities together, building mutual support.  Cohousing communities can be inter-generational, welcoming anyone of any age or family structure. Alternatively they can be more specific, catering for people who are older or for communities of common interest, for example for women. They can vary in size from around 10 to 40 households.

Whilst cohousing communities are committed to providing mutual support for each other, they can also look outwards, inviting the surrounding community to take part in shared activities, building sociability and mutual support more widely in the neighbourhood. We aim to do precisely this, to look outwards, engaging the wider community, building solidarity together across the Holloway development site and beyond.

Cohousing on the Holloway site

Our aim is to develop a co-housing community of some thirty households, providing a core of community sociability on this site.

  • The flats for these thirty cohousing households need to be provided in a central location on the site, preferably in one block, but, if necessary, in two adjacent blocks of flats (depending on the height and size of the blocks in question)
  • There needs to be a large common space on the ground floor, with a hall that is large enough to accommodate shared activities, provided with kitchen facilities for shared meals and to cater for events, including events for the wider community.
  • The ground floor common areas need to include smaller spaces for an office which could also double as a spare room, with shower room for guests (enabling households to downsize, not needing a spare room within their own flat, because the guest room could be booked for visiting family and friends).
  • Other shared facilities might include a laundry, a DIY space and tools.
  • The cohousing block(s) need(s) to be surrounded by green open space, with play space for children from the cohousing community and the wider community to play together.

These requirements represent basic needs for cohousing communities. There are so many more details to be decided over the coming period, as we develop our plans in consultation with all those with interests in the development of the Holloway site and in consultation with wider communities. We are committed to taking this forward together engaging with communities across Islington and beyond inclusively.

What next?

Although we envisage that the Cohousing Community would provide homes for around 30 households in all, the exact size is open to further discussion.  

We also need to discuss:

  • Should this be an inter-generational project, including families with children and older people?  If so, might there need to be separate spaces for particular groups (e.g. a women’s only floor and/ or a quiet floor)?
  • What facilities should form part of the Cohousing project?  We have listed the need for a common house with a meeting space and kitchen for meetings, events and shared meals, plus a shared office/ small meeting room/ room with bathroom, which can be used for guests and shared laundry facilities. What else should be included?
  • How might the Cohousing Community link with other community facilities on the site, including the Women’s Building?
  • And most importantly, we need to discuss who would be interested in getting involved, including social housing tenants in Islington who might be interested in moving onto the Holloway site as part of the Cohousing Community.

Our aim is to take these discussions forward, building the Cohousing Community together, in consultation with Islington Council and the development stakeholders.

CONTACT – hollowaycoho at outlook dot com


The Wider Benefits of Cohousing: The Case of Bridport

Berlin example – Spreefeld

Feature on Marmalade Lane cohousing in Cambridge (The Telegraph):

Italian magazine article on cohousing, explaining its principles and presenting examples, including Marmalade Lane cohousing (Abitare):