Ten minute interview: Co-housing pioneer Arne Bjerre


Arne Bjerre was one of the founders of Sættedammen, the oldest known modern cohousing community in the world. I interviewed Arne when living with his wife in the same house he had lived in for some 45 years. He shared his thoughts on successful cohousing and gave me a tour of the wonderful site.

1. How long have you lived in a cohousing community?
45 years

2. How did you get to know the other people in the community?
There was an article in the paper by a prominent psychologist, Bodil Graae, that said ‘Children should have 100 parents’ and some days later there was an advertisement in the paper inviting people interested in forming a community. So my wife and I went along to the first meeting.

3. Where were you living before you decided to live in a community?
In a flat in Copenhagen.

4. What made you decide to live here?
Near and stable contact with neighbours. Living in a city flat we did not experience this, so we were looking for something different.

5. Did you have any difficulties agreeing the area or house/flat to share?

6. Do you have any house rules or any sort of agreement between you?
Yes – we have agreements. Each householder owns their property and can sell this to others freely, but any changes to the buildings and general way of living is subject to our community agreement. Because it’s a well established community this is not a problem.

7. What is the best thing about cohousing?
Daily life with people you know well.

8. Do you have any tips or advice for other people thinking of setting up or living in a cohousing community?
It is extremely important to have a common-house which is big enough.

To hear more about Sættedammen, the oldest known modern cohousing community in the world, you can read more about Nick’s visit here.

What is co-housing? How does it differ from co-living?

It was with great sadness that I learned the Arne had died in June 2022 aged 85. I feel priveledged to have met him. A true pioneer.


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