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The concept of collective housing may sound strange to you or maybe you don't know what it refers to. However, we are sure you have seen collective housing projects many times. Do you want to know what is it? Read about it just below.


Collective housing, what is it?

It is a building or groups of buildings that include individual dwellings, where each unit is inhabited by a family, independent from the rest. Their use is mainly residential and there are common areas, such as the entrance, a common garden or a garage, and private areas, such as storage rooms.

Collective housing refers to apartments, attics, duplex, lofts, or any other residential this typology. You may think that this concept refers to a specific structure, but this is not the case. They are called collective housing because they are used by a group of people without any family relationship among them.

In general terms, collective housing is the opposite of single-family dwellings. The apartments would fall under collective housing, while the individual houses are single-family dwellings. But there are cases in which the clasification is not so clear. For example, semi-detached houses.

Barracks, old people's homes, student residences, hotels or even convents can be considered collective dwellings too, because all of them are inhabited by a group of people who share something, even if it is only the access.

Advantages of collective housing

  • These dwellings are usually located in central areas of the cities, so residents have a wide range of services available next to their residence place.
  • The common areas have their own maintenance services, so they are usually in good condition without the need for residents to take care of them.
  • The cost of collective housing is lower when compared to a traditional individual house.

Types of collective housing

At the end of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century, the growth of cities and socioeconomic and cultural changes promoted the development of collective housing, which responded to the great demand for housing in urban areas.


There are several types of collective housing projects:

  • Residences

They consist of a group of horizontal or vertical dwellings. There are common spaces, such as gardenss, dining rooms or laundry rooms. The people who live in these residential complexes are usually non-related individuals or people who live alone in a dwelling.

  • Lofts

These are dwellings without separations between the different rooms of the house. There are almost no walls or divisions. It is considered a contemporary and innovative distribution that integrates the entire house and separates the areas using different materials or paint colors.  They are very lighted and diaphanous spaces.

  • Apartament-blocks

It is the most common collective housing type. It consists of  single level floors where all the rooms of the house are located: bedrooms, living-dining room, kitchen, etc. 

  • Duplex 

It is a dwelling configured in two floors connected by an interior staircase that joins both spaces. 


All types of collective housing projects have similar features. They are designed to enable residents to share common areas and the costs of services for all dwellings.

Changes in people's way of life, technological evolution and the need to increase population density in cities have favored the use of collective housing, among other residential types, because it implies a better use of the resources available, and reduces the costs of common services and supplies.

Master in Collective Housing UPM/ETH

The Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing is a professional and international postgraduate programme that is developed on a full-time basis, dealing with advanced architectural design in the city and housing. It is designed and taught jointly by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).


The application period for MCH2022 is already opened, and it will remain so till 31.01.2022 or until vacancies are filled. 


For more information, click here!

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