To Common Ground Co-Housing

Our vision is a new paradigm for housing and living in Ireland. It is a solution which meets people’s needs for an affordable home in a supportive community while respecting environmental limits. The motivations for delivering this project are plentiful. Healthy communities provide for their members and we aim to create a community which is resilient, affordable, and environmentally sensitive; a community that is run by our members and embraces diversity and difference; a community which allows for equal participation and provides opportunities for engagement, celebration and fun whilst at the same time respecting the need for individual privacy and space.

Who We Are

By working and socialising together, we are actively building an integrated community; experiencing it before living it.

Common Ground Co-Housing consists of 26 households comprising 35 adults and 24 children. We are all living and working in the South Dublin/North Wicklow area. A diverse group of individuals and families, we work in many fields including, amongst others, architecture, small business, health, disability services, horticulture and education. The majority of us are unable to satisfy the stringent lending criteria imposed by banks despite earning good salaries. Moreover, the shortage of supply in the rental market finds members paying a disproportionate amount of their income on rent.
To find a solution to the impact this housing crisis was having on us and our families, we came together in September 2018 to form Common Ground Co-Housing. Despite the diverse nature of our group, we are united by our common drive to create a housing community that is affordable, low-impact and sustainable. It is this shared desire that binds us and forms the core philosophy of Common Ground Co-Housing. We are experienced with working in and creating community.
One of our central tenets is that community is more than people living in close proximity to one another. We have prioritised building good personal and working relationships between members. To this end, there have been bi-weekly meetings of task teams, monthly whole group meetings and community building weekends. On signing up, members pledged not only to work towards creating a community but also made a sizeable financial commitment. This was seen as a way for prospective members to demonstrate the strength of their commitment to the project.



LILAC stands for ‘Low Impact Living Affordable Community’. The objective of their project was to design and develop a replicable model of affordable, environmentally sustainable housing. The community is carbon negative, which is achieved by using natural materials, exploiting solar energy and installing effective insulation. Financing for the project was repaid through the MHOS model, a form of tenure which we will be introducing here in Ireland.



An essential component of LILAC Leeds’ success was their pioneering of the Mutual Home Ownership Society (MHOS) model. MHOS is an original and innovative new form of tenure. It is a significant departure from the current housing finance model as far as it provides permanently affordable housing and a strong community not subject to the vagaries of market speculation. 

Self-Owned Self-Managed

At its core is the concept that the housing, and the land on which it is sited, is owned by a society which in turn is owned and managed by its members, who reside in the homes provided by the society. 

Secure Equity Share

Monthly payments cover a maintenance charge and secure equity share units in the society, which uses these funds to repay the development loan. 

Affordable in Perpetuity

Should a member choose to leave the cooperative their deposit and equity shares will be repaid to them as a new member comes in. 

Eliminates Market Speculation

This model of tenure eliminates property market speculation and focuses on building strong communities rather than treating housing as an instrument of increasing wealth.

Why Co-Housing?

Without community, there is no liberation.


Communal living is something of a catch-all term referring to any group of people with similar values who live together in a community. It covers several approaches to housing including co-housing, co-living and communes. Although these approaches are different, they are a form of living at odds with the current models currently in vogue in many parts of the world.

What is Co- Housing?

A community adopting the cohousing model has the following characteristics:

  • It is intentional
  • It is designed, both architecturally and culturally in such a way that encourages interaction and the formation of close relationships
  • It comprises both private spaces and communal spaces
  • Members are actively involved in all stages of the community’s development and its running
  • It is community-oriented
  • It is non-speculative and affordable (in perpetuity)
  • The community governance model typically adopted is consent-based and is non-hierarchical
  • Many cohousing communities have at their core a commitment to sustainablity
  • The glue that bonds it is the unshakeable belief that it is in community that mankind is at its best.

Co-Housing vs Co-Living

It is important to draw a distinction between co-housing and co-living. The latter involves more sharing of spaces. Normally, members in co-living communities will have their own rooms but share kitchen and bathroom facilities. It is not unlike renting a self-catering apartment…. for an exceptionally long time.

If we were to locate these three approaches to communal living on a spectrum, then communes would be at the opposite end to co-housing. Similarly to co-housing, a commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, often having common values and beliefs. They differ in that property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work, income or assets are also shared. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become important core principles for many communes.






Our vision of low-impact living is informing all aspects of our project’s design. What we design, how we design it and the ways in which we can initiate behavioural change are part of our systemic, participatory design approach to reduce our environmental impact and increase well-being.  We are starting with the successful template of LILAC Leeds, which was built as a carbon negative development and is dedicated to creating a culture of enquiry, support and learning. Our low-impact design approach, which supports a shared low-impact lifestyle, is described under the following headings.

Quality of life


Our entire project is being designed to promote health and well-being: dwellings will be dual aspect to optimise day lighting and created for adaptable use as occupant needs change. In order to reduce harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and increase indoor air quality, low VOC finishes will be applied and we will use natural cleaning products in all areas.



Central areas of the scheme will be designed to promote connection and inclusion: landscaping will be designed to promote community interaction and the common house will facilitate community events and meals. Guest bedrooms, laundry facilities and work spaces will also feature.



On-site rainwater will be managed through landscape design including permeable surfaces and Sustainable Urban Drainage. In our homes, services will be designed to reduce water demand through the use of water-saving devices as well as actively changing water use habits. 



Building materials will be selected for reduced environmental impact by sourcing materials locally, reducing use of PVC, using FSC certified timber and designing for disassembly. We are promoting a culture of reduced material consumption with minimal plastics use, materials reuse, recycling and organic waste composting.

Energy and Carbon


Buildings will be designed to Passivhaus and Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) standards to minimise energy demand by using passive solar design, optimising building envelope design and using efficient electrical services. Our lower energy demand will be met primarily through onsite renewable sources. In order to reduce car dependence our site will be within walking distance of regular public transport.



Biodiversity and Food


In order to increase biodiversity on site our common areas will be landscaped using indigenous species that encourage insect and bird life, and provide seasonal foods. All landscaping will be managed without the use of harmful chemicals. Food will be grown organically in our community garden, and purchased in bulk from local organic producers including a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) partnership through a vegetable box scheme.