Innovation That Matters

Sustainable living

French retirees build ecological cooperative housing


A newly retired group of citizens in Lyon joined together to create the Chamarel retirement cooperative to provide sustainable, affordable living space.

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On the outskirts of Lyon, the Chamarel cooperative is a four story high building insulated with straw and consisting of 16 apartments of varying sizes. The founders of the cooperative wanted to create a better method for active, healthy ageing that would support members for many years and do so in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Each member invests EUR 30,000 (or the appropriate amount adjusted to each individuals’ means) into the combined cooperative fund and pays a monthly rent of between EUR 600 and EUR 800.

If a member leaves the cooperative, the investment amount will be returned in full. The apartment complex also includes several guest rooms for visitors, a common room, a shared kitchen, gardens, parking (for both cars and bikes) and bee hives on the roof. Decisions are made collectively, and the current owners ask that anyone interested in being placed on the waiting list or subscribing to the cooperative’s newsletter, get in touch via email.

As the world’s population collectively grows older, and digital nomads become more common, increasingly creative approaches to housing are necessary. Co-living is becoming more frequent, for both residents and travelers, like these new spaces in cities around the world. For people who don’t want to settle down in only one place, this option provides a single lease that works in multiple international locations. How could common barriers to collective living be overcome through global knowledge sharing and cooperation?



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