Co-living and the common good - RSA

Co-living and the common good


  • Community and place-based action
  • Economy

Co-living is a form of housing that seeks to build community and social capital by combining private living space with shared communal facilities. In this collection of essays, we ask a number of thought leaders and practitioners to explore the potential of alternative housing models such as co-living to help meet the challenges of today, with a particular focus on cities and urban areas.

The RSA is interested in finding new and better ways to meet the UK’s housing challenges. Much of the current debate is characterised by a preoccupation with how best to increase the supply of homes. But we also want to examine other important questions: What do people see as a ‘home’ (a financial asset, shelter or a social right)? How can we create homes that meet need, provide economic security, build community and give people a stake (financial or otherwise) in housing? 

To address these questions it is important to examine alternative models of housing. While co-living is not a new phenomenon, it is attracting a growing number of people for whom our current housing market offers neither choice nor affordability. The RSA, supported by The Collective, commissioned this set of essays to ask key voices from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives to explore the potential and the challenges associated with co-living. Our intention is not to present co-living as a magic bullet for resolving the housing crisis. Neither is it to provide a comprehensive analysis of co-living. Rather, it is to open up debate and to encourage a more diverse conversation about how to address the UK’s housing challenge. 

The publication includes the following essays:

Matthew Taylor – Introduction: Is co-living on the horizon?

Rohan Silva – Housing in an age of accelerations

Jess Steele, OBE – From homes as commodities to living homes

Nicholas Boys Smith – The rise and fall (and rise?) of communal living

Manisha Patel – The fundamentals of a home and how we can design for wellbeing

Jonathan Schifferes and Atif Shafique – Co-living and housing equity 


Download 'Co-Living and the common good' (PDF, 3.18MB)


Read the report online on Medium


Picture of Atif Shafique
Associate Director, Public Services and Communities (Sabbatical)

Picture of Jonathan Schifferes
Associate Director, Public Services and Communities (Family leave)

Picture of Matthew Taylor FRSA
Former RSA CEO

Picture of Rohan Silva
Rohan Silva

Picture of Jess Steele
Jess Steele

Picture of Nicholas Boys Smith
Nicholas Boys Smith

Picture of Manisha Patel
Manisha Patel