Study visit to the Co-Housing Majbacken

Today we visited the Co-Housing Majbacken at Chapmanstorg in central Gothenburg. http://www.majbacken.org/
Ola Båth and Elisabeth Olzson opened up there home for us and showed us around and told us about the history behind the house.

The 8 story building was in 1956 and was before the Co-Housing started to “take over” the house, apartment by apartment, a house for elderly run by the city administration. In the bottom floor there was in the 1980’s built an extension to host the dining room and kitchen. The rest of the bottom floor was other service for the elderly like home-service and foot-care. Before, all the apartments where only with 1 room and kitchen. Today the building consists of 31 apartments from 1 to 2 rooms and a kitchen (40-57 sqm in total), renovated by the Municipal Housing Company in 2004 when Majbacken was formed.

The common spaces is about 200 sqm with movie-and meeting room, guest room, library, workshop in the basement and the big extension with an open space for dining room and kitchen. Besides the toilet there is a cross-trainer and a training bicycle that Elisabeth tells that her father, also living in the house, uses every day. The common floor is very home-like with a lot of decorative objects like hand-made art, thriving flowers in the big windows that shows signs that this is a very appreciated and used rooms. Among other, an artist has made glas birds that float in the high ceiling of the dining room and she has also contributed with handmade tiles for the kitchen that was renovated in 2008.

How do they get it all to work on Majbacken we asked Ola and Elisabeth. They tell that they only have two things that are mandatory: you must participate in cleaning the common areas and you have to join a cooking-team. You write when you want to do this on a list in the hall to the common floor. You also fill in the day you wish to eat but this is not mandatory. Each meal is sponsord with 6-7 SEK from their own organization (to kind of promote the common dinners we suppose).  You only pay 25 SEK for a dinner and you pay in advance and receive cupons to pay with at the dinner. The joint dinner is only twice a week, with different days each week. Often people also cook spontaneously  together in the common kitchen or just meet for a coffee.

The food is traded locally to support the local merchants who also gives them discounts because of this. They have a policy to buy organic as much as possible and to every meal served is an vegetarian option. Other ecological benefits Ola and Elisabeth talks about is that the residents have only a total of 5-6 cars and discussing about the association will buy an electric car.

We think it was a very nice visit to Majbacken and now we only have to wait untill we turn 40 and don’t have any kids at home to apply to move here!

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