The Reef vs. lockdown: living in a co-housing space in a time of pandemic

how do you know the person is infected especially given the fact that some of you are already carrying it but are not showing symptoms.

Do you guys talk to each other and explicitly ask ?

Also do you all guys maintain the rules of social distancing? like among yourself? or with others? i assume none of you are now going out and meeting friends , but only for essentials like groceries.

Do you have specific hygiene rules set as well?

this whole Reef Set up is interesting indeed.

1 Like

It seems that this works fine for online spaces: at the moment online spaces (especially online meeting spaces) are used for various purpose: business meetings, hanging out with friends, meditation … to name just a few.

All we need to do is to transform this behavior into analog space :slight_smile:


Nice! Good thinking.

We don’t. We follow WHO guidelines. Unfortunately the Belgian government is not following the bit about testing so much, so we cannot get tested.

Yes, we had an explicit discussion about who was seeing whom, and what precautions were being taken.

Each of us is seeing from zero to one person outside the house. These extra people are informed that their behavior could potentially put all of us at risk. The consensus is that zero risk is impossible to achieve, so we settle for vigilance and risk minimization.


Just reading through this entire post - and gives me some impressions/ thoughts about the “Reef” space

  1. ‘alberto’ i assume who posted this , seems to be an inhabitant in the ‘Reef’s’ residential space as well as a ‘worker’ in the ‘Reef’s’ commercial space (?) - is it possible that none of the ‘inhabitants’ are also ‘workers’ at the “the Reef” (?) - i think that will disrupt the model / prototype. i have seen several cases in past in the UK where they had such similar set ups, but because there was no clear space modularity (from a security / safety stand point) , so there were burglaries and residents had tough conversations with the workers

  2. Also i wonder what is the age spectrum of the inhabitants - i personally feel when majority of inhabitants at such a space are in their early-twenties to early thirties (like 22 to 32) - this model might become wobbly (i think such idealistic commerco-residential space needs level headed mature individuals both as inhabitants as well as workers).
    So its not just about the willingness to start (as advised to ‘Xavier’) but also finding the right people willing to stay / work at such place.

  3. I wonder - if people staying in the Reef really have an emotional bond with each other or not. Do they have any sense of belonging-ness towards each other. I suppose everyone of you might say - “Yes I like my co-sharing flat-mates”. But is their willingness to spend time together or its more of a once or twice a week formality

  4. i am also curious about the ethnic diversity about this prototype and their behaviors. i assume everyone is Europe-born- bred(??). I wonder how having a non- European changes the interaction or rather creates either a shock or surprise within such a finite eco-system .

It is, but it kind of defeats the purpose. :slight_smile:


  • Female in her 50s, born and raised in Belgium. Temporary resident, only quarantining here.
  • Male in his 30s, born and raised in India.
  • Female in her late 20s, born and raised in Brussels by Chinese parents.
  • Me: male in his 50s, born and raised in Italy.

Previous housemates over the years have included mostly people from Europe (Sweden, France, Poland, Italy, even Belgium) and outside (Indonesia). The age range is early 20s to mid 50s.

I absolutely agree that diversity is key. Age, but also lifestyle (9-to-5 jobs vs. work from home), gender etc.

Emotional bonding is not the point. It can emerge, but also not. The Reef is a platform on which, then, people build all kinds of personal relationships. The point is living together. If you make personal involvement a requirement, in my experience things become a bit cultish for my taste.

impressive!! at-least by ethnicity you have the world’s 3 best cuisine residing at one place - hope you guys can cook haha :smiley: No offense meant for the Belgians.

yes it may or may not emerge, true. But to live together in harmony you need to have certain level of genuine empathy - and this empathy is the basis of such emotional bond and more of respect towards each other.

Dont know what you mean by cultish but we all are part of our own secret and non-secret cults, that is not the issue. The issue is about our own comfort zones , spaces and insecurities.

Its a perception issue as well, if someone feels that “i am being forced” in becoming friends , it is counter productive. Meaning technically if each house-mate has their own inner circle that satisfies their emotional and peripheral needs , no one cares who you are living with - as long as they dont touch/ move their cheese :smiley:

So in a way yes - for some people it might me a ‘must-have’ but others ‘could-have’ requirement.

i think the whole concept is a slightly morphed realization of exiting community living social frameworks like Tolstoyan movement (except that yours has no connection with any form of religion - i perhaps see what you mean by cult here may be).

A little update: we are currently trying this! The government gave 24h for people to relocate, we took advantage and very quickly swapped our city flat for another rented space in a town that has potential for what we were discussing before (rural co-living with some resilience when it come to food and energy). Friends were already first movers in a sense, only they were making their own home here, not focusing on the communal aspect; so now we can explore the possibility to expand on that with them, by being physically on site while still working remotely. Ideally we’ll need to attract more families/people for it to work, but for now we can get a better “pitch” together - as you sort of suggested - by going through the concrete steps of creating our home first. There are plenty of logistical hurdles, but it was an experiment very much worth making.

We’ll see where this goes, so far it’s exciting.


Wow, this is super exciting! Can you write a post about the experience?

I probably will? But we are super early at the moment to have anything useful to say. I am taking notes :slight_smile:


@Alessandro I am curious… have you relocated yet? How is it going?

We temporarily have @alberto, we’re 3 weeks into our experiment with approximately one more to go. In general, it’s been a positive test. I am not looking forward to go back to our city flat…

As for “relocation”, so far we’ve seen a few plots of land, only a couple seemed suitable for me. The architect we talked about said we’d realistically be able to begin construction only next year, so whatever the case, we need patience (I was hoping for this winter already). The micro-climate of this valley is definitely something else compared to Yerevan, but the abundance of water should make up for it :slight_smile:

There is a 100km commute, each way, which will probably be needed once a week, but the potential is still good. Maybe one day the old train line will be reactivated? :man_shrugging:

Personally, I am more than interested in extending the “experiment” until we can make it a more permanent move, so fingers crossed :crossed_fingers:

1 Like

I agree. There is so much to be learned by extended experiments. I have been now been experimenting for almost eight years, in two different locations. And now, yes, I feel ready to settle.

A pandemic brings new challenges and chances to co-living. @nachorodriguez, what have been the experiences regarding that in your community?

people, time and space. then y’all might build trust and learn space and power sharing i guess