Cohousing for Ageing Well

cohousing lady in garden nearby home

Like many cities, Adelaide’s population is ageing. Older residents may find limited options to ‘downsize’ in their current neighbourhood if their housing doesn’t meet their needs or if they don’t wish to live alone. The urban infill style of housing favoured by developers is often not age-friendly and can have negative impacts on streetscapes, the environment and community connections. 

The City of Unley has led a project to identify more innovative and flexible housing options. This project focused on the redevelopment of existing housing stock which enables street character to be maintained. However, it still allowed increased density with more dwellings per block, using smart design principles that better cater to the needs of older individuals.

Latest news


We are pleased to share that the Cohousing for Ageing Well project has been recognised by winning the South Australian  Local Government Award for Excellence in Leadership, within the category of Community partnerships and Collaborations. The Project will now move forward to be considered for National recognition

The City of Unley is also delighted to share that since we have demonstrated the community’s passion for this project, and their support for these Designs  we are moving into Stage 2 working alongside Planning and Land Use Service (PLUS) and in partnership with UniSA and fellow ERA Councils to author State Policy that will allows every resident and every Council within South Australia to approve quality cohousing in the near future

It has also received international recognition, being shortlisted for the 5th Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. This international recognition is particularly significant as Cohousing for Ageing Well is one of only 15 projects shortlisted from a field of 273 entries from 175 cities across 60 countries, and the only Australian project to be shortlisted.

Cohousing presentations

Listen to the architect Dr Damian Madigan presenting the final design from this project.

Find out about ageing the right place with Dr Amelia McCabe from the Global Centre for Modern Ageing.

See cohousing in action in Mount Barker at Millers Corner, in this short talk by the co-founder, Lia Parsons.


Cohousing designs and reports

Read reports from the project.

Design report(PDF, 16MB)

P&D Code Consultation(PDF, 4MB)


More information

The project engaged a wide range of stakeholders including the Office for Ageing Well and the State Planning Commission along with four Local Government Councils (Unley, Burnside, Prospect and Walkerville) and the University of South Australia (UniSA). Four character houses were ‘redesigned’, transforming them on paper to provide more dwellings with shared amenities that could meet the social and physical needs of individuals wishing to ‘age in place’ in their community.

Older residents engaged in a codesign process through a facilitated workshop with UniSA. Their insights led to a suite of final designs developed by UniSA. These designs were on a variety of plot sizes but all retained outdoor space, deep root zones for medium or large trees and high quality individual dwellings, whilst providing the capacity to promote positive interaction between residents. This interaction is promoted by shared amenities such as shared outdoor and BBQ areas, shared laundry facilities and, in the largest plot sizes, a full common house for social gathering. The work also stimulated a submission for the new South Australian State Planning and Design Code to consider the value of specifically designed cohousing.