Treehugger has a post about cooperative living in a small town in Victoria, Australia.
Although the houses are placed quite close to each other, they don’t have boundary fences, so strategic design was employed to instil a sense of seclusion. “All living areas face onto the sleeping and bathing areas of the neighbouring house, so nobody’s living areas look into any others,” says Robyn. “Additionally, there are screens, earth mounds and plantings between houses to provide privacy.”
I will suggest planting Espalier fruit trees as fences [Cordon Training of Fruit Trees, Diagonal Vertical, Spiral, Horizontal.]. Then the demand of orientation of the houses would be reduced to let everyone has a better sun-orientation. This will make the boundary as co-operation between neighbours and enhance friendship.
The houses were built in traditional ways. Last year's bush fire is a vivid reminder of the need of better design for homes in the bush. I have been reading about geodesic domes [How to Design and Build Your Dome Home]. A sphere encloses the largest volume with the least surface. A dome will use less material to build then a traditional house making it less expense and more sustainable. Dome is also very strong - by nature of its structure. If the dome house are covered with soil, the "skin" of the house can be covered with vegetation too. In areas where bush fire is a threat, the skin can be made to upstand fire using earth as the main heat barrier.