CALGARY -- A group of Calgarians is getting closer to making their dream homes a reality but their future residences are not your typical houses.

It's a co-housing project, a concept that involves several private homes clustered around shared space.

Benefits include saving money and reducing residents' environmental footprint.

"You own your own unit that's self-contained," said John Mungham, a member of the Mosaic Village group.

"But it’s connected to other people in that same community who share a common space."

Mosaic Village, which has just received its first rendering of the project from a developer, is planned for the northwest Calgary community of Bowness.

"We are looking at having sort of a shared common dining room with a kitchen next to it, a common music room, an arts and crafts room, shared guest rooms," says Rikki Prince, another resident who's bought into the project.

Co-housing originated in Denmark in the 1970s and spread to North America. But it's only growing in popularity on the Canadian prairies now.

One project, Prairie Sky, opened in the northeast 20 years ago. At least two others in Calgary besides Mosaic Village are in various stages of development.

Mosaic Village says it will breathe new life into the land it's bought in Bowness, which currently has two vacant homes and a rental unit on it.

"There are three very old, very inefficient houses sitting there that are falling apart. We are eliminating that and building one complex for 24 units," says Mungham.

A wholesome way of living

Each unit will have its own kitchen, but the shared kitchen is a crucial part of the social experience, say future residents.

"You have your own space, but it’s just the ease of being able to interact with people," said Lindsey Heighington, mother to a three-year old boy. "You have your privacy in your own home but there’s a community at your doorstep.

"We don’t share a religion or an exact philosophy. We are just interested in a better way of living...a more wholesome way of living."

The owners of the future home say there are some misconceptions about co-housing.

"This is not a cult. It is not a commune," said Mungham. "It is a real sense of a healthy, vibrant community and striving for that."

And then there's the cost savings, from shared utilities to one internet bill.

"Our spaces are smaller because we share a lot," said Mungham. "You only need one lawnmower. You only need one of set of rakes."

They are planning a rooftop green space and may add solar panels in the future.

COVID-19 challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for the group ranging from young families with kids to seniors.

They can't hold in-person meetings and they may have to forego shared meals if the coronavirus is still an issue when they move in.

Meanwhile, a dozen units are sold, and Mosaic Village is looking for seven to 13 more families to buy in.

The group says interested buyers have to budget between $330,000 and $600,000 for their project. The complex will be self-managed and residents will do their own landscaping and property maintenance.

They hope to break ground next year and move in sometime in 2022.

More information is available online.