Cal Cases, Spain
Founded in 2007
Cal Cases was the first property in Spain to be bought as a housing cooperative, a common model in scandinavian countries that provides a more affordable solution to property ownership. This was a very important step towards a collective-living experiment that by sharing resources, expenses and daily responsibilities, generates a series of social, economical and environmental benefits for its members.
The group met at a consumer cooperative in the city of Barcelona, an assembly of 50 families that buys directly from local biological producers and promotes forums & screenings on ecological issues. From these meetings emerged a group of 18 people who decided to join forces and search for an alternative to conventional private housing, which demands a full-time dedication to fulfill the monthly budget, leaving little time for the individual and the family.
After a couple of years the collective found a piece of land in the heart of a catalan forest that satisfied everybody's expectations. After restructuring the already existing buildings they focused their efforts on building a strawbale house, an action that involved the help of many friends and volunteers from all around Spain.
Education: The eight children living in Cal Cases, aged between 2 and 8 year-old, attend local schools and return home for lunch everyday. Parents take turns to drive them to school and back. The offspring are a small community themselves and spend most of their free time together, playing outside and riding their bikes. The parents try to promote an healthy environment within the children's group, and gather in regular meetings to discuss educational and behavior issues.
Economy: Most of the adult members are employed by the state (in schools, universities, research centers, etc.), and everybody tries to work from home as much as possible. Each member is an equal partner of the housing cooperative, to which all contributed with a standard starting fee (refundable to anyone who decides to leave). The daily expenses are shared by all.
Energy and Water: Solar panels and a wood-burning heating system warm up the living areas and the water, which in its turn comes from a nearby well. Electricity is provided by the national electrical grid but the future plans include a change to a more sustainable source.
Visitors: In the last couple of years the community hosted many volunteers who took turns helping with the construction works of the strawbale house. Cal Cases' regular guests are usually friends or family but the collective also welcomes other visitors.