Cowork, colive, collaborate – an ode to shared spaces

More than just shared spaces, coworking and coliving spaces promote shared values.

It is no coincidence that "co words" have been mushrooming in recent years. Today, coworking, coliving, co-housing and collaborating are on everyone's lips.

This collaborative model of working and living is nothing but the reflection of a modern society growing around shared spaces like ivy grows around a tree. It is a clear sign that millennials want interaction, communication, and synergy.

Why is coworking so popular?

WeWork Moorgate coworking shared spaces
WeWork Moorgate

What is a coworking space? Simply put, it is a business model that revolves around several individuals or companies working in a shared office space.

Nomad workers, startups, freelance professionals, independent contractors and many more can reap the benefit from a collaborative working environment. And if coworking is the future, it comes as no surprise that blue-chip employees are trading smart for casual clothes and joining the coworking community too. 

Truth is, it makes sound business sense and offers a few advantages, too – state-of-the-art offices at lower costs and in prime locations, shared printing facilities, no long-term leases, networking possibilities and a sense of community.

And let's be honest, the vibe is cool.

The word coworking won’t be a word in the future, it will probably just be the way we work.

Rahul Prakash, partner at Hatch Today

With over 75 locations around the world and 50,000 members, coworking operator WeWork has become a bellwether in the industry but there is room for more.

According to Deskmag's 2017 Global Coworking Survey report, "by the end of the new year, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space."

For commercial landlords, real estate developers and coworking operators, that is 1.2 million people to cater for; 1.2 million opportunities.

So, how do you attract new members? How do you run a profitable coworking space? For some, this is no longer the biggest question. 

The coliving concept is gaining momentum

Roam: a coliving community across the world
Roam, co-living complex in Bali, Alexis Dornier

In April 2016, WeWork launched its progressive, albeit wildly expensive, coliving apartments in New York. A cross between student accommodation and hotels, WeLive describes itself as a community-driven concept revolving around, drumroll please, sharing. In other words, shared spaces for young renters seeking a more sociable environment.

In tandem, other coliving complexes are springing up, in the UK and around the world. The UK's first purpose-built coliving complex opened its doors in west London, in May 2016. The Collective Old Oak is at the vanguard of a new housing model that, however in line with young professionals' needs, remains on the expensive side.

We have to break down fences and allow people to start sharing amenities in their living environment so that there is a quality of life but also a social activation

Matthias Hollwich, architect and Architizer co-founder

Visionary architect Alexis Dornier has even taken the coliving trend to the next level with Roam, a innovative housing model that allows residents to move between properties around the world. Currently, the choice lies between Bali and Miami but the list is bound to expand with major cities like London, Madrid and Buenos Aires in the pipeline.

As co-working matures, co-living is picking up speed. Now is the time for landlords to react and explore new ways of living and working. Ways that are in keeping with the needs and requirements of Generation Y.

Urinal design: flush with possibilities

At first glance, urinals do not appear to offer particularly fertile ground for design discussions, especially in the workplace. However, there is a lot to be said about a fixture that was not always ubiquitous in the workplace.

First patented in 1866, the urinal has drastically evolved since Andrew Rankin was credited as its inventor, 151 years ago. And although the benefit of a modern urinal (and a well-kept washroom for that matter) may still be lost to some businesses, the urinal as indicator for quality and innovation is climbing in popularity.

Gloo by Phillip Watts
Gloo: colourful polyethylene urinal by Philip Watts Design

A quick web search shows a wide variety of urinals – corner, stall, through (should these really exist?) sensor and waterless but what about designer urinals?

Pictured above, Gloo is a rotationally moulded plastic urinal which comes in 8 different colours, making for a somewhat fun washroom should different colours be used at once. And if polyethylene does not appeal to your business, you can opt for the stronger and more durable cast solid resin, like the Spoon urinal across.

spoon - urinal design by phillip watts
Spoon: cast solid resin urinals by Philip Watts Design

Spherical urinals may sound like a futuristic feature but Ceramica Cielo's suspended ceramic urinals blend French flair with the quality of Italian craftsmanship to create these minimal urinals fit for high-end, sophisticated offices.

ceramica cielo Ball ceramic suspended urinal
Ball: suspended ceramic urinal by Ceramica Cielo
Olympia crystal urinals with lids
Crystal: glossy white, wall hung urinals with lids, manufactured by Olympia Ceramica, designed by 5.5. designstudio

Perhaps most commonly used in urinal design, ceramic is another option worth exploring for its clean lines, elegant appeal and versatility.

Of course, a post on urinals would be incomplete without the mention of the ever increasing waterless urinal. Introduced to the world by the Waterless Company in 1992, no-flush urinals can now be found in all shapes and sizes and their advantages are multi-fold. By installing no-water urinals, business can save money on water (and water itself), maintenance is reduced and the dry nature of waterless urinals guarantees a more hygienic environment.

waterless urinal design
Waterless urinals by Kohler

That said, unpleasant odours remain a common problem with waterless urinals. So how can business meet environmental goals and reduce their expenditure without resorting to dry urinals?

Latvian designer Kaspars Jursons seems to have found the answer. Meet STAND, a hybrid toilet with an integrated shallow sink in the shell of the urinal, pictured below.

hybrid urinal and sink
Sink and urinal hybrids at Riga's Concert Hall Palladium by Studio Annvil

How does it work? Jursons puts it simply: "By washing your hands, the same water rinses the urinal by a simple method. People do not need to use water twice any more, for urinal and for sink—they just simply wash their hands." What's more, the proximity of the two is bound to remind the forgetful and the hurried to wash their hands before exiting the restroom. A three-in-one modern urinal. 

So how important is urinal design in the workplace? If a washroom is to reflect the values of a business, putting an emphasis on design urinals will show a business cares for the details and that, as small a detail as it may seen, is bound to have a knock-on effect on the company's well-being.