Affordability through design: the role of building costs in collaborative housing

Sara Lia Brysch*, Darinka Czischke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Against the background of the current housing affordability crisis, a new wave of ‘collaborative housing’ (CH) is developing in many European cities. In this paper, CH refers to housing projects where residents choose to share certain spaces and are involved in the design phase. While many authors point to the alleged economic benefits of living in CH, the (collaborative) design dimension is rarely mentioned in relation to affordability. This paper seeks to fill this knowledge gap by identifying design criteria used in CH to reduce building costs, increasing this way its affordability. We carry out a comparative case study research, where we assess the design phase of 16 CH projects in different European cities. Findings suggest that collaborative design processes increase the chances of improving housing affordability, mainly due to the often-applied needs-based approach and the redefinition of minimum housing standards. Supplemental data for this article is available online at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1800-1820
Number of pages21
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • building costs
  • collaborative design processes
  • Collaborative housing
  • design criteria
  • housing affordability

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