Cohousing in milano

my friend, this is a brief report about something i did and i currently live.

started in 2006 in the north area of Milano, we created in 2010 the first Italian "official " cohousing. Located in Milano Bovisa neightboorhood. pls note that there are already many experiences of “living together communities” who shares time, tools, resources, values and so on, in Italy too. but usually they have a identity origin (religion, politics, ideology. family…

in this experience community came during the process and is based on light identity, sharing, supporting, liking, saving…the

starting with: 1 a real estate project for 32 apartments to be done. 12 families who agrees to start the adventure and pay for it signing a contract (normal one), we then spent about 12 months knowing each others and projecting home and shared places…results is: beautiful garden, poli functional living room (kitchen, parties, movies, meeting…)hobby room, laundry, terrace and swimming pool…lowest energy impact as possible…in a very modern and Nordic looking style.

thru the time…24 months…other families joined and community is completed before work ends. so its more than 2 years we gave been living here…kids play together, family know, we see moving, talk about the world, make painting, yoga, sports activities for us and neighborhood, keep on sharing about all liked to living, sharing knowledge and free time, cooking courses, teaching each other what we know, playing with kids and cats, we have a mailing list for support and communication, all the telephone numbers and online shared place for info, request, tool, objects to share and use, we created purchased group on food and others (possible car but is difficult)…and some of us are also projecting to make this experience grow and support other groups to do more…actually people come to our place to know each other in order to see if they manage to do something similar…but is difficult to find real estate project and funding…we will see…anyone can help?



I’m in!

Simone, this sounds like Utopia! I think initiatives like yours are going to be all-important in the very near future.

I speak from experience: in 2011, my wife and I moved to France from Italy. One of the biggest problems with the move was that, obviously, we could not bring our network of friends with us, and our social life in France had to be rebuilt from scratch. Sometimes this is easier, sometimes it is harder, but is always is an issue. Now, if we could move to the kind of accomodation you describe, we would find a sort of ready-made social network of people we could interact with, and possibly make some friends. Even if true, deep friendship does not happen, having the odd chat with the neighbor goes a long way.

We may have to move again. More and more Europeans will have to: encouraging mobilty is one of the key actions the European Commission is going to take to fight youth unemployment (press release). So, I am definitely oi! My main question is: how does one find something like you describe? Are there online resources? Do they exist in every major city?

It’s for me!!!

Hey Simone, I think you’re project is great. And would definitely consider it myself. You know I used to live on an icebreaker with people I really grew to love. At no point before or after have I ever felt such a sense of community and emotional safety, you never have to be alone if you don’t want to- but you can get your space if you like. And there is something about living like this that brings out at least for me, my better more considerate and generous sides.  There were some disadvantages like it being very very cold in the winters, and the cabins being very small ( we had all the original ship furniture with bunk beds and everything). But to be honest it didn’t feel like a dealbreaker, people only moved out if they coupled up or were leaving town. I miss it every single day and want to live like that, and so your post makes me so so happy and hopeful that I can get it again. I have a few questions since Im thinking seriously about doing this too…the first obviously is money- how do you need to think about and manage the money bits? how much money do you need to get started? Is everyone who lives there wealthy?  And what do you need to figure out how to engage an architect in this kind of project, do you think you could interview the architect  and or real estate developer and and post it here? I really would love to hear how or why he or she got involved and how they would excite someone else to get involved? what were they worried about and what would they like to have been done differently?

I know I know so many questions , hope you don’t mind. Thank you again for making my day! :))

so nice to get so big attention, too much for my usual life.

nadia, the ice breaker thing you talk is something new to my hears.

concerning the co housing project i can tell that consdiering milano prices and the quality of life we have, and the quality of the building too, well we really make a good deal. not cheap but really really good for quality. and then consider the “value” of shared places, the “value” of the good lifestile and relationship, the “saving” we are having thanks to so many group purchases and actions.

but then. if we manage to set up a bigger organization to find cheaper places, a bit outside of towns, or maybe with deals with public autorities, or with some “public services for the community”…prices can be reduced. there are plenty of option to explore. depending also on the “will fo the founding people”

i cant write too much just becasue we are in uncetain a but about it, btu with some frineds from here and more we are setting up a social network to agregate families, lands/buildings and profesional, so to  eb able to have the quantities to make more and more prociets, the skills and the resouces. we may have a first pilot project in april.

this is a kind of national/regional activities, really linked to land, bulidings, lows, liking between people, but cvan be empowered on a browded european level too, by the web into two way

1.central service (it, communication, family support, purchses) can be done just onece for all

  1. local activities need a local partner (profesional, team buliders)

if we mange to make it in italy, i ll be happy to involve other follower friends to reporcue iot in otehr countries. it can be a very nice option for nicer living, creating communities, savings, and quality of live, active welfare and sharing economy will grow.

we need

some money, some people, a few project available to creat community around

lets see…


Who was the mover?

[icebreaker = una nave rompighiaccio all’ormeggio a Stoccolma, dove Nadia abitava fino al 2008]

The question is: who made this possible in Milano? The construction company? A coalition of future neighbours? The government?

the local social network? and my experience

ciao Simone, thanks for sharing your experience!

One of my aspiration is to move in a cohousing and since I’ll be relocating soon in Copenhagen I’m actively looking for one to join (by the way: the first cohousing born there 40+ years ago).

(Before sharing my experience I’ve a direct question to ask you: since I’m in Milan for this month, are you up for a meeting? I’m really really curious about what you mean for “local social network”. I’ll leave here my email so you can reply directly: higiacomo[at]


I've been following the cohousing topic in the past 2 years and for the fellow italian edgeryders that are interested I can refer a book+documentary which features a brief history and the current (partial) picture of the european cohousing movement. 

So here in brief my experience with three coworking that are starting the construction phase these months and that I’ve been following either personally or professionaly. (Numbers may be slightly inaccurate…memory faults :slight_smile:


After more than 2 years of adventures they ended up with an over-sized project but decided to continue.

They’re 5 families and the land/design is for 12. During the construction phase they’ll look for the other 7 but in the end the builder (who is acting like a bank, financially speaking) will sell to anyone.


Here there has been a deal between the local municipality and the group of families. They basically got the city land for a very discounted price and in exchange they'll provide neighbour-wide services. 


Here there's been a financially strong local cooperative that promoted all the project. After a year long process the group signed the contract after some last-minute drop-out that really mined the success of the investment.


So here are the lessons for me:
  • starting a cohousing is terrible hard because a lots of money is involved
  • the traditional real estate process is reversed: therefore it's a real nightmare for the builders/promoters that loose their power and sometimes even their margins. In other words the wanna-be cohousers must start by themselves and take the organizational risk/investment
  • But still. Wanna-be cohousers need the assistance of qualified professionals. (facilitators, architects and more). If they do by themselves they usually end up with in-the-sky expectations and when they found out the true number they have to start over or more probably: give up
  • even if all those factors line up: still we're talking of yearly long processes. This usually means that people's life/work can change, so their mind, and the group cohesion/investment is always mined at the core
In other words: it's a real venture... but I bet it's worth it.


In the past months I've been collaborating with a design studio who's trying to specialize in this kind of processes. I helped them to put together a cohousing starting kit and it should be ready in march. I'll be happy to follow up if any edgeryder is interested.

But to be honest the kit is just informative / promotional. I would be very interested in exploring more creative and strategic ways to work around the obstacles I mentioned.

For example: re-using is for sure a great choice for many reasons. Also renting and in general mixed business models are potential ways to overcome the financial obstacle. I’m sure there’s lot of room for improvements!

Okay. Forgive me for being so long, I’ve edited this text a lot, I hope it’s still readable and useful to someone.

See you around! :slight_smile:

ciao Jack,

available to

ciao Jack,

available to meet you in milano.

agree on everything you write, its a toughjob to set uo community, skills, resources, also becasue

  1. need time

  2. legal framework

  3. financial projects

  4. many skills

  5. bug numbers

for this reason i and some friends have started putting all the pieces of the puzzel together: architets, facilittors, re developers, technology, and hopefully we will try to set up the first emerging situation in bologna in aprile.

but the isse is that soch ia big “social value” is still not pomoted by Pa. doesnt have a legal framework useful, investiments are too big.

i feel the private sector should be included, and overcome ideological point of view. I just did a seminar at political science in milano and even student there consider it just as a private benefit, but my dear, the welfare is reducing so much, neightborhood helps for kids and many otehr things…but probably they were to joung to understand this…

see you in milano and maybe in strasbourg



Ciao Simone,

I’m definitely another fan of your project. Congratulations for the hard work, recognition and social (how about financial?) return!

This reminds me of a concept I came up with: Coopetition. Here’s an example: in Vienna, where they have 80 years of social housing experience (which is different), public entities collaborate with architects to build / reform apartments, utterly rented at a low price by low and mid class single people or families. I actually spent some days in one of those and let me tell you, they are some good-looking, cosy, central apartments!

So here’s the thing, because users have access to great affordable solutions provided by the public sector, real estates either adapt and offer just as good conditions or they’re screwed.

The role of the public is crucial since it regulates the market by fostering minimum standards. Who benefits? the user.

Simone, in your case do you think the private sector would start copying when they understand the real value of this initiative?

Why not a different return for every different stakeholder? The famous question “What’s in it for me?” does not need to be answered with money - Design Thinking is a great way to solve creatively these complex cases.


Ciao Giacomo!

do you know this web site?

You can find there some materials about the co-housing with key-words “abitare collettivo”. Perhaps you interest! :slight_smile:

other link

Do you know this project ongoing in Milan?

no I don’t know this project

it looks really exciting and concrete.

Do you know anyone who’s involved?

Yes! It’s very interesting! I know Paolo Campagnano, the founder of The Hub Rovereto, who is involved in the creation process of ZOC (officine creative).  Do you want to know him?

Damn cool project!

I really want to live in cohousing, but somewhere a little more rural. I can’t see any other way of affording property!

Great project,


can it be scalable?

That’s really impressive Simone!

I am very curious how this works in terms of building cooperation and tolerance amongst those willing to live together? My family moved out in the suburbs 4 years ago during a real estate boom, my mom really wanted a house since all her life had lived in an appartment: a box of matches like they called them in communist times. So we bought half of a duplex (you know that sort-of-double house, but it’s actually 2 houses in 1 since the entrance, utilities, gardens are separated). The neighborhood was new and a lot of new duplexes were build, very close to one another, actually forcing the community to cooperate to improve their living - like agreeing on a main gate at the entrance in the neighborhood and chipping in to do that. What they did first, they each modified the initial design of the neighborhood in which all houses looked the same to make theirs unique. they repainted them, and most interestingly, they all built higher and thicker fences than the initial ones to make sure they have some privacy.

After 4 years, everybody knows everybody, it’s a very small territory for so many houses+families and of course there are conflicts as well. But there is no intimacy; when somebody has a barbeque it’s like you’re having it, because the smoke and smell, and noise! it’s everywhere. and the peaking, and the gossips… So I couldn’t wait to move away…

Of course, co-housing is different and I think I understand how; do you think it’s very important for the people to have similar interests, background and education? otherwise I don’t see it working…

or maybe it’s a societal thing? I don’t see my fellow Romanians being up for something like this… as a society we’re lacking trust, we’re still very suspicious about things we have to put our money into… maybe the young and educated would do so, but not the others.

Lastly, I was wondering if there’s a resource space online where we could read more about your project in particular, since you say it’s an official co-housing project. It doesn’t seem like a business model, but it was born out of your initiative, right?  So are there any private gains as well, in addition to the savings each family does when taking part in this?

my freind…the answer to many questions is not. it is like this. but…we did like this, you ll do as you ll like…i feel that it can works if ti comes out to fit the community…

we walked a long time together before living together, we chaqnged rithm as a group and personally. for example i waqs elected in a very weird election where everybody was voter and also candidate without actually candidating…with the 9%% of vote…to be the co ordinator of the process…but after moving in for personal reason i really had to strongly reduce…and some other people take in and are doing so well!

there is not official website, we have private web, wall…we have been too much stressed by media, reasercher and so on…that we close it up communication a bit.

scalable? hard hard…but also nice nice…many tried, few succeded…

a warm hug…from freezing milano

updates from milano

here we go with some updates

  1. we are founiding Association among the cohousing partecipants to manage our activitivities with a more solide framework (this is also a need…laws do not include anything that fits this kind of living…in managing differently the balance sheet, cost sharing and so on…responsabilities, insurances)

  2. the assocaition will also support and promote cohousing

  3. we are starting a tango course ;-9

see you soon


to rent or not to rent?

Ciao Simone! Your story is great!

I’m thinking to move from Venice and, after reading about your experience, I think that it would be ideal moving to a new city and have the possibility to rent a room/apartment in a co-house. Do you think that destine some spaces at rent it is impossible or possibly dangerous for the community’s balance?

If there is space enough the rent can be also a way to cover some common expenses.

Join the club

Of course, I would like to do that too (in Brussels). Great question.

Very interesting project

This sounds like an amazing project. I would love to learn more about it.

Which is the project’s website ? Where can I see some pictures?

I’d love to write an article about it- I am a journalist ! Let me know if I can interview you and some of the community members !

towards european social network of homes communities

deare readers and writers. within one month time i hope to meet all of you in strasbourg.

in the meantime , in the free time i have better developed ideas about the social network

and i have now the strong feeling that its a good idea that can work, and that should be developed

  1. on a bigger scale

  2. with a non profit organization strucutre

  3. that the complexity of the project is enourmouse as it deal with family life, reguilations, housing (investment rules and knwhow, it) so we need the help and support of community managers, architects and profesionals, lawjers, and then also financial expertes…maybe local authorites and so on

  4. people get really really motivated and entusiastic of big projects…and this drives attention

so i wnat to make the meeting in june an occasion for eveluate how to develop it at least in some countries…find the skills, the people, and some little money…we dont need much…and start builiding the basements…i am sure that it will grow bigger than our hands…

so…how to make the meting efficeint…i can prepare bsic slides…and shsre them before…and then…having a section there, is it possibile?