Salone del Mobile Milano

Trend Research: Shared House.

We realised there's a gap in the market for this new way of living, which we somewhat coined the name “co-living”. (James Scott, Chief Operating Officer of co-living space The Collective)

The financial crisis and the advent of the sharing economy are impacting significantly on the evolution of people’s  behaviours and lifestyles, especially those in the younger age brackets. The so-called Millennials, or representatives of what is known as Generation Y, have embraced concepts such as sharing and immediate and unrestricted “access” in relation to goods and services. 


Homes and lifestyles are no exception to what could be seen as the steady “uberisation” of all aspects of consumption. The leading international urban centres are seeing the inception  of new habitative formulae, marking the passage from the concept of “living” implying “ownership” to the concept of “living” implying “service”.

The soaring costs of living in the great cities, mortgages requiring increasingly substantial guarantees, contracts that are often inflexible, and a widespread fall in disposable income are also fuelling the spread of on-demand models in the housing field. Living As A Service, or its acronym LAAS, means precisely that – just like services such as Uber, Netflix and Kindle; in addition to traditional house buying or renting solutions, there is now a “subscription” option.


These new, very real demands from a large slice of the population are generating new genres of residential facilities, strongly “socialising” in nature, and new shared understandings of what habitation means.
More and more people are going through a much longer “suspended adulthood” than in the past, in other words, they are taking longer to hone their own social, cultural and relational identities before they become firmly established. The upshot is a diminished desire for commitment and stability, with greater value placed on the quality of experiences than on the ownership of goods just for the sake of it or seeking out – including where and how to live – the same level of convenience, comfort, flexibility and immediacy to which they have become accustomed thanks to the new technologies.

The Collective Old Oak in London and the Common in Brooklyn are state-of-the-art residential complexes that provide an innovative response to these emerging new demands, leveraging a renewed sense of community. Their concept is part student lodging and part hotel. Members pay a monthly subscription, for which they get a private apartment and access to communal spaces – lounge and dining areas, a kitchen, garden – as well as workstations, WiFi, concierge, cleaning, security services and cinema, spa and gym facilities.


Communal living has thus become one of the major design challenges facing architects and interior designers at various levels. Co-living, therefore, means that homes are increasingly becoming places of variable geometry capable of housing several different generations and different types of families and communities with shared habits, values, interests and life choices.

Co-living also means sharing the domestic space not just with other human beings but also with animals - cats and dogs in the main - which bring their own specific demands and requirements. This has triggered two macro-trends: Co-housing and Pet Style.