Blended Living – The Class Conference 2019

Conscious Coliving was invited to be an exhibitor at The Class of 2020’s Class Conference 2019. We set up an interactive Coliving Quiz for participants during the panel breaks, which we will talk more about below. We wanted to give a few thoughts about the event and give a chance to share our Coliving Quiz that was designed with the help from The Class of 2020 (TCO2020) team.

The theme of the Class Conference 2019 this year was ‘The Future is Blended’, and it focussed on what the hybridisation of new living models in the student accommodation, hospitality, coliving and multifamily sectors look like currently and what these blended living typologies can become. The first day consisted of site visits to some PBSA (purpose-built student accommodation) models, some coliving spaces and some innovation hubs. We visited The Fizz – International Campus, CIEE Global Institute, and Quarters, while the other tour buses visited The Student Hotel, Neon Wood, and Holzmarkt25

Day 2 consisted of some insightful panels, especially ‘The Moment for Coliving’ is Now that was moderated by Gui Perdrix of Co-Liv and Coliving Diaries and Christine Mcdannel of Kndrd, with panelists Jacob Chai (Senior Director of International Real Estate, Common), Mindy Teo (Deputy Managing Director, The Ascott Limited), Jorn Wisselink (Director of Operations, Hmlet), Bruno Haid (Founder & CEO, Roam) and Anil Khera (Founder & CEO, Node). A few other highlights panels and keynotes included Oke Hauser (Creative Lead, MINI Living), Jill Ju (Investment Director, The Collective), Susan Tjarksen (Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield) and Frank Uffen (Director of Partnerships, The Student Hotel). 

Source: The Class of 2020

TCO2020 shared a few of their insights in an article you can read here, which we have added below with some of our favorite bits from the conference and our own thoughts on these topics:

  1. Community is key: As one of the key pillars of the Conscious Coliving Manifesto, we agree 100% (make sure to check out our guide for community developers, managers and facilitators). As TCO2020 puts it, operators “are understanding the importance of activating space and community by empowering residents within it to share their own unique interests and connect with each other”. We ask ourselves however, is community more about an amenities arms race, or is it about empowering residents and local communities to thrive individually and collectively? We believe there is still more work to be done here.
  2. Affordability is demanded across the urban living sector: What is meant by affordability here? Usually in the case of coliving, it means providing middle income young professionals with access to more luxurious living, rather than providing more lower income key workers and communities with the housing options that they more desperately need. By using construction techniques such as prefabrication to save on building costs and speed up the building process developers and operators can reduce costs for the end customer, and provide genuinely attainable housing options for those in need.
  3. The value of branding: “Residents are making more conscious decisions about company ethos when selecting their accommodation”. This is 100% true and is happening across all sectors, even more so outside of real estate. There is a risk here though: there is a fine line between ‘impact-washing’ or ‘community-washing’ and residents will decide with their pockets when understanding which coliving operators are embedding their values the most by providing genuinely human-centric living offers.
  4. Reform outdated policies: planning needs to ensure flexibility for housing options such as coliving while at the same     needs to protect the fundamental needs of residents such as appropriate sizes for private space and reasonable cluster sizes. Innovation around has been slow but is popping up in cities like London and San Jose
  5. Innovation and technology are driving building efficiency: “Smart technology can help us collect data and make data-informed decisions and enhance human experiences”. How can coliving operators use user data to perform impact measurements and improve the design of future spaces? We are building partnerships with platforms such as Yorlet, Salto KS, TheHouseMonk and Sopact to streamline operations and measure impact simultaneously. 
  6. Learning is evolving to adapt to changing market demands:  what is meant by a ‘campus’’: is it purely for university campuses, or does is also include innovation hubs which are often dubbed innovation campuses or clusters? Some coliving spaces focus their model on this kind of hybrid learning hub (i.e. ‘school of life’), such as The Student Hotel and Urban Campus
  7. Collaboration to shape the future of urban living: TCO2020 aims to help shape the real estate industry in a blended, collaborative and more flexible direction. Collaboration needs to be ensured between planners, investors, developers, operators and especially the most important stakeholders: the residents living in their homes and their local communities.
Source: The Class of 2020

Finally, one of our favorite insights from the weekend, the ‘Pyjama Rule’! 

“Social spaces should be designed so you will feel comfortable in your pyjamas. This means more intimate space and micro clusters designed with an appropriate balance of private and public space”

The Moment for Coliving is Now panelists

You can also have a run through our Coliving Quiz by clicking here, which we are sharing with you all as an open source presentation. There are a ton of coliving insights and stats in there, have fun!

P.S.: make sure to check out our upcoming coliving insights publications.


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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