Presenting a radical vision of affordable, deep-green housing in the American Heartland

Antioch College Village Cohousing

Antioch College is building a significant new residential co-housing development in Yellow Springs, Ohio. McLennan Design is leading the effort in close collaboration with the future residents to design a neighborhood that promotes community values, fosters equity and inclusivity, employs sustainability strategies, and is rooted in the principles of co-housing. The project includes a variety of residential units ranging from studios and apartments to three-bedroom townhomes as well as a mixed-use building to house academic programs and commercial space.

From the beginning, we have engaged closely with Antioch College and the co-housing group through multiple charrettes to better understand the site, the need, and the vision for a thoughtful, regenerative, and inspirational place for community.  As a result of our integrated design process, we produced a program and masterplan that addresses the goals and visions for the project and responds to local ecological and climate research.

With the emerging concurrent desires to deepen community connections while maintaining density, many neighborhoods and cities are turning to co-housing as an important model. In the cohousing model of communal living, each individual or family will live in a modest dwelling unit which serves as an independent apartment or house. A Common House serves as the large, shared space for all members of the community. Though Common Houses can take many forms, the majority have a shared, industrial kitchen and multi-purpose rooms such as living, dining, game rooms, and guest suites. Other shared facilities such as food production, storage, or laundry can lend a sense of community to the co-housing members.

This co-housing development, developed using the Living Building Challenge as its framework, will serve as a prototype for a new kind of small town life in the American Midwest.

Program: Residential, Mixed-Use
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Year: 2017
Status: In planning
Site: 1.92 Acres
Program Size: 
67,976 SQFT
Client: Antioch College
Collaborators: Conscillience LLC
Consultants: Integral Group, Pete Munoz
Project Team: Jason F. McLennan, Joshua Fisher, Galen Carlson, Brad Benke


The design of the interiors for each unit in the co-housing village is based on a modular integrated wall system that is adaptable to each unit type. Whether the unit is a studio, one bedroom, or three bedroom home, the flexible modular system will allow a level of customization for each resident. Some homes might include murphy bed systems or a variation on cabinetry but all would be built with local, non-toxic, red list free ingredients ensuring a healthy indoor air environment.

Based on the philosophy of co-housing, the more public spaces like kitchens, dining, and living areas are located next to the public pathways while more private spaces such as bathrooms and bedrooms are oriented to the back of the home.

Customizable Homes

Interiors of each residence can be tailored to personal preferences ranging from finishes, paint palette, and arrangement of the integrated fat wall system for shelving, desk nooks, and cabinets. The images below suggest how each unit could be personalized to the preference of each home by different paint colors and wood finishes.

A Neighborhood Where You Know Your Neighbors

The design and layout for the homes expresses the intent to purposefully know the people who live close by you.

In these homes the most public rooms, the kitchen and dining spaces are located next to the village pathways, nestling the more private bedrooms in the back of the house. Front and back porches provide both the connection to your neighbors but also maintain privacy and quiet spaces. We rely on landscaping to add another level of privacy for residents and to create a connected pollinator pathway throughout the project.

Mixed-Use Building

A mixed-use building will be placed on the corner of the site to house a new college student life center, supporting retail space, and apartments. The building will be approximately 28,424 sqft. Apartments in the building will feature balconies overlooking the street and will include similar interior partition systems that is being applied in the co-housing rooms.

Responding to the existing college buildings clad in red brick, the mixed-use building will be clad in glazed white brick with window frames in a rich honey wood finish.

This building will be aiming for Living Building Petal Certification at a minimum and help create a gateway to the revitalized Antioch College campus.

Back to Architecture