Greg Foyster lives at Murundaka Cohousing Community in Heidelberg Heights, Melbourne. He’s contacted us about one of the most popular PWF articles Cohousing A New Affordable Australian Dream? (2008!) and what he calls ‘the first truly urban cohousing community’ in Victoria, and, is having an Open Day 22 Feb as part of the Sustainable Living Festival.

Not Hippie, Not Social Housing

“Murundaka in Heidelberg Heights, has been home to the residents of 18 units since November 2011…

To get in, your income has to be at or below a set amount and rent is set at 25 per cent of your income. You also need to share the sustainable-living philosophy of the founders.

Iain Walker, one of the brains behind the project, sees it as an extension of the co-operative housing concept.. ‘If we help finance each other, if we share things more, you can reduce your costs and you can reduce your impact on the planet’…

‘I’m coming at it from all three aspects – the social, the environmental and the affordable. [There are] all those wonderful benefits of the old, traditional extended family, of the village lifestyle, but in a modern, mainstream capacity.’

Murundaka, far from evoking ’70s communes, is modern and rather funky in design. The two blocks of nine units are built around a common meeting place that hosts everything from occasional meals to birthdays to, recently, a wake. There’s a vegie patch and a spare room anyone can use for guests. Some residents share cars; others pitch in with babysitting.

It’s proved a godsend to residents such as Delphine Laboureau-Ormancey, who lives there with her 19-year-old son. She migrated to Australia 20 years ago and lived mostly in country Victoria. More recently she found herself priced out of the Melbourne rental market. Then she heard about Murandaka…

Heidi Lee lives in a three-bedroom apartment with her partner, Chris, and three-month-old daughter Elle. She says everything in their home ‘is about 10 to 15 per cent smaller in terms of private space. That 10 or 15 per cent is allocated [in the common space]’.

Gilbert Rochecouste, whose company Village Well specialises in the sensitive development of urban spaces, regards Murundaka as among the most innovative co-op-style projects in the country. But he laments Australia’s slow embrace of the principles and benefits such communities provide, which he attributes to a failure of education and leadership.

[He says] ‘In terms of the development side, it feels like we’re a decade away from where they are in Europe, but I do feel clearly that there is a consumer demand…People do want other options, apart from living in the suburbs or an apartment in the city. I think you’re starting to see a whole generation locked out from purchasing a home'”

Murundaka Cohousing Open Day

Saturday 22 February, 10:00am – 4:00pm
42 Bamfield Road, Heidelberg Heights

Gain a rare glimpse into Victoria’s only established co-housing community, a unique form of development for sustainable living.

This full-day event includes panel sessions, tours, an author talk, presentations from other local cohousing groups and a vegetarian lunch.

Tickets are $50 ($40 concession) and you can book online at www.murundaka.eventbrite.com.au

Great addition to the Sustainable Living Festival

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