This project examines cohousing communities, intentional communities designed to operate like a village in an urban environment. Residents know their neighbors, own their homes, and share ownership of a larger common house and the property the community sits on. They make decisions through consensus and have shared meals a few times each week. Cars are kept to the periphery, and paths provide both social space for residents as well as connecting homes. An environment like this offers a new context to consider what a domestic Internet of Things might be like. Here, an IoT must operate across multiple residences, but only one home. It needs to take into account multiple levels of “public” and “private”—from a truly public social sphere, to a “private public” operating within the confines of the community, to a fully private home life. From a legal standpoint, cohousing is essentially a social covenant grafted onto a standard condominium association. What might a similar covenant look like for IoT objects, platforms, or APIs?
Through photos, interviews, community visits, and workshops, this research through design project has resulted in two kinds of design thing. First are a series of process workbooks that analyze and step through various parts of the design research fieldwork, and community engagements. The second kind of thing are speculative prototypes that postulate alternative values for the Internet of Things.