Co-Liv London Learning Expedition Recap

Last week Co-Liv hosted another Coliving Learning Expedition (LEX) in London and our co-founder and coliving consultant Matt attended and visited the cutting edge innovations of the UK’s coliving movement. The group visited a few of central London’s new and existing coliving brands including Vivahouse, Gravity, Spaces and The Collective

Some other coliving related initiatives that attended as well were Salto KS (IoT access control/smart lock solutions), Yorlet (property management software), ColivMe (a BNP Paribas coliving platform), Bikube (Vinci Immobilier’s coliving initiative) and Respublica (new coliving in London). 

We made some great connections and are in conversation with some of the attendees about potential partnerships, so stay tuned!

Co-Liv’s London LEX started with a visit to Vivahouse’s new space opening up this week on Oxford Street. Their Vivahouse Soho location will be a prototype for what is to come in future Maida Vale and Tooting Bec locations. 

It is a 3 room prototype of their prefabricated modular bedroom units, that they have showcased in the last year in different locations, including as a short-term pop-up exhibition in London’s empty Whiteleys Shopping Centre in Bayswater. 

The system of modular units can be built on site in under 24 hours inside existing buildings to create private rooms with shared facilities. According to this Dezeen article, the Vivahouse prefabricated system takes 70 percent less time and costs 70 percent less than traditional construction. 

This model reduces waste, transportation of materials and construction costs and can be a solution for occupying vacant retail space in urban areas.

 

Vivahouse pre-fabricated bedroom unit

After Vivahouse we went to visit Gravity’s Finsbury Park location, which will be opening this summer. I was really impressed by the hospitality background of Robert Birch, their COO and his approach to community experience. Their 4 Pillars of community include Personal Wellbeing, Meaningful Engagement, Professional Growth and Unconventional Design, and their ‘ultimate goal’ is to release the true potential of their members. 

They aim to be well integrated with the local community and partner with local community centers to host skill sharing events and the likes. They’ve also partnered with Elevate, a company that offers employee wellbeing initiatives that address corporate wellbeing needs, and Gravity plans to train community facilitators with these skills and others such as conflict resolution.

 

Gravity Coliving Finsbury Park location

The last visit of the first day was to Spaces, a ‘hub and spoke’ model of coliving that leases spaces from owners and operates them for shared living. They have locations across London and aim to have larger central hubs in each neighborhood where members from smaller spaces in the area can meet up and exchange (hence the ‘hub and spoke’ model). 

They are partnering with Build to Rent operators Tipi for their Wembley Park location, which will range from £999,00-£1,300 per month. Zafar Bhunoo, Spaces’ Head of Growth, gave us a very informative run down of the operations side of Spaces, including how they deal with insurance and tenant agreement policies, leasing contracts, property management software, resident apps and more.

Spaces x Tipi at Wembley Park

The second day of the LEX started with a great visit to The Collective Old Oak, hosted by Ed Thomas, Head of Customer Experience and Insights. He showed us the newly renovated ‘Secret Garden’, their standard kitchen and themed kitchen designs, The Collective Canary Wharf showrooms and the communal spaces on the lobby. 

Exciting news from The Collective are obviously their global expansion and new Canary Wharf opening in July, but also the reconversion of the first floor of The Collective Old Oak into creative and artistic studios for members and local neighbours! 

As the former Community Experience Designer at The Collective, it was great to catch up with old friends at The Collective Old Oak and hear about their progress.

‘Comfy’ bedroom at The Collective Canary Wharf, opening up July 2019

Finally we ended the LEX at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office in Farringdon where their Principal, Patrik Schumacher, presented ideas about how computational design could influence shared living spaces and user experience. 

Their data capturing metrics allow them to influence the design of their spaces according to ‘user needs’, although they do not engage in more qualitative forms of community engagement or placemaking (or they do so indirectly via consultants). Their computational design methods allow them to create geometric / parametric designs that give them their ‘curvy’ visual identity. 

Although Zaha Hadid Architects has not yet designed any coliving spaces, they have dabbled in student housing and are exploring partnership with some of the bigger coliving developers. 

Aware of the controversy around Patrick Schumacher going into the visit, I left feeling unsure about Zaha Hadid Architects’ contributions to the coliving sector; will they be involved in the design of misplaced and intrusive coliving developments, or use their parametric design skills and data capturing platforms to create state of the art shared living communities that will set the bar for coliving design? Time will tell…

Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office

It was great to attend Co-Liv’s London LEX, and we are getting more involved with their network and helping facilitate their Mighty Network’s platform with content and research. You can join the platform on Co-Liv’s website by clicking on ‘Member Sign In’ or ‘Join’. 

The LEX was well organized and provided a lot of value and inspiration to attendees, leading to potential partnerships and lots of resource and knowledge sharing. We hope you can  fin useful insights to optimise your coliving busines model.

Big thanks to Pauline from Co-Liv for the organization and we look forward to future events!

This article has been authored for you by:

Matt is responsible for designing community experience and impact strategies and measuring the social value of coliving communities. Matt is also a founding member and current Head of Community of Co-Liv and has worked for The Collective on their Impact Team.

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