Welcome to the show notes for the 6th episode of Coliving Conversations, a show that shines light on the people, projects, and places of the blossoming coliving movement!
In this episode, join co-hosts Naima Ritter Figueres and Dr Penny Clark for an insightful conversation with Amy Frearson, co-author of the book All Together Now- The Co-living and Co-working Revolution. Amy is also editor-at-large of Dezeen, one of the biggest and most infuental design websites. Dive in to explore all about the coliving and coworking revolution as well as what is needed for the co-space sector to thrive. Key points we cover in the episode include:
- The interlinked trends behind the coliving and coworking revolution
- Different ways to colive, including case studies from Amy’s book
- The need to balance community design with management
- Reflections on the future of living
- What is needed for the co-space sector to thrive
Listen to Episode 6
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Key Resources mentioned in Episode 6 (Season 1)
- All Together Now- The Co-living and Co-working Revolution: A practical and inspirational design guide featuring detailed and highly illustrated case studies across coliving and coworking typologies. This book concludes with a best practice toolkit that provides valuable advice and lessons for designers working at any scale.
- Noiascape publication: A series of articles written by Amy Frearson for Noiscape on why people are choosing coliving, how coliving can improve the quality of life and how coliving can bring benefit to cities.
- Coliving in 2022 & Beyond Guide: What is coliving? What are its benefits on residents, businesses, neighbourhoods, and cities? How can we measure and optimize this impact? This guide offers answers to all these questions, as well as inspiring examples of coliving spaces from 6 continents as well as coliving for digital nomads, remote workers, urban dwellers, students, entrepreneurs, seniors and families.
- The Conscious Coliving Manifesto v3.0: An open-source framework for shared living players. the Manifesto serves as a guide for building connection-centered communities, based on the premise that coliving can fulfill its potential by fostering connection with self, others, and nature. The Manifesto was a finalist and public vote winner for “Best Initiative Fostering Coliving”.
- The Community Facilitation Handbook: Award-winning handbook with strategies, tools & more to make your community flourish. Written by 3 co-authors with valuable input from over 15 contributors from the industry. You will learn why to invest in the community, how to leverage the role of the community facilitator and how to avoid common community building mistakes.
About Coliving Conversations
The first season of Coliving Conversations will kick off with new podcasts aired every two weeks and can be listened to on many platforms including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast and at ConsciousColiving.com/Podcast. This show asks the question – how is shared living already tackling some of the biggest challenges that we face today AND how can we scale it in the way that the world needs?
You will gain insight into the latest trends shaping the industry and hear loads of practical tips related to shared living business models, technology, and investment as well as how to enhance community, wellbeing and sustainability. Each episode will shine insight onto the latest trends shaping the industry and discuss multiple successful case studies with loads of practical tips.
Season 1 Partners
Coliving & Coworking Revolution
[00:00:00] Naima: What’s ahead for coliving and coworking?
Let’s explore. 🙂
Welcome to Coliving Conversations, a show that shines light on the people, projects, and places of the blossoming coliving movement.
Hi, my name is Naima and I’m Head of Community & Wellbeing at Conscious Coliving. I’m here in the studio today with my co-host for this episode, Dr. Penny Clark, who is Head of Research & Sustainability at Conscious Coliving. Penny’s one of the leading researchers in this field. She recently completed her PhD on coliving, cohousing and sustainability from the University of Westminster.
[00:00:44] Penny: Hi Naima, great to be back in the studio.
[00:00:49] Naima: Awesome, Penny. Well, today we’re gonna be exploring coliving in the context of the coworking and cospace revolution, as well as how the coliving sector can fulfill its full potential and why this is so important given our current global context.
So Penny, why is this so relevant and important to talk about?
[00:01:10] Penny: Well, this topic is important because in the last years we’ve seen this growing trend in coworking and coliving. We know these two industries are closely intertwined and are growing in popularity because they’re reflecting changes in how people live and work.
And while the pandemic, of course, slowed things down a bit, this trend continues.
So it’s really important for us to be exploring, discussing, conducting research and remaining critical as well as being optimistic.
In fact, this whole season is actually about exploring how the shared living sector and other types of co spaces can fulfill their potential, especially as coliving and coworking become evermore mainstream.
We know that both of these industries are here to stay. So let’s see how we can make them have as much impact as possible in mitigating loneliness, in creating social connection, and in helping with the climate crisis.
[00:02:03] Naima: Yeah, absolutely Penny. And yeah, in fact, our research is showing how many coworking spaces are really focusing on these aspects like sustainability, like community, in order to stand out, in order to align with shifting demand.
So thanks for that snapshot. I think you nailed it right on the head. And to dive into all this more today, we’re gonna speak to Amy Frearson, who recently co-wrote the book “All Together Now- The Co-living and Co-working Revolution“, which explores the varied benefits of shared living and working spaces and reveals how to design them effectively.
Amy is a journalist by background and is also editor-at-large of Dezeen, one of the world’s biggest and most influential design websites.
And key points to listen out for in this episode:
- The trends behind the coliving and coworking revolution.
- Different ways to colive, including several case studies from Amy’s book.
- The need to balance design with community management.
- And Amy’s thoughts on the future of living, as well as our reflections on what is needed for the shared living sector to thrive.
[00:03:09] Penny: Yeah. So we’re gonna get into the conversation with Amy now, and then Naima and I will be back in the studio with some reflections afterwards.
[00:03:19] Naima: And before we dive in, I wanna give a big shout out to our partners, without whom season one of Coliving Conversations would not be possible. These are:
- Coly: a profiling and matchmaking platform for shared living
- Spaceflow: an all in one tenant experience platform to enable better life in buildings
- And GoHumanGo!: A collective of professionals, supporting people and planet.
Naima: Well, Amy, thanks again so much for joining us today on Coliving Conversations.
[00:03:53] Amy: My pleasure to be here.
[00:03:55] Naima: Let’s just jump right in. So Amy the title of your book is All Together Now- The Co-living and Co-working Revolution. Why this book? What led you and Naomi to bring this book to life?
[00:04:09] Amy: Well, uh, it was an interesting one, really. I mean, Naomi has a lot of experience in this field as a designer. She’s worked on a lot of very pioneering student housing schemes. So she’s really been sort of starting to look at, you know, new ways in which we are living together and how those ideas were starting to bleed into other residential sectors as well.
Um, and then, um, for me as a journalist, I mean through sort of having been writing for Dezeen for many years, I cover a lot of topics. Um, and coliving was, was kind a new, a new topic for me as well. Um, but Amy sort of, and I sort of started looking at this topic together and I just became really, really fascinated in, in the kind of concept.
And not sort of like one specific idea about coliving or coworking, but it’s like the idea of there being so many different ways in which, you know, we can live and work together. Um, and so this book sort of then became this exploration into, you know, these different, different typologies. And that’s where it went into a idea of, uh, exploring different ideas about what coliving could be.
[00:05:14] Naima: Mm. And the title contains the word revolution. Is, Yeah, could you expand a little bit more on that? Why are you guys calling this a revolution?
[00:05:25] Amy: This sort of idea of revolution was very much in our minds the whole way through, because I think we really feel there is a moment where diff, you know, different ways of living together are kind of gaining pace.
And they’re not necessarily new ideas, like different ways of coliving and have existed for a long time. But I think, the market and sort of the rental market in particular starting to cotton onto the benefits.
So it’s in turn driving this wider trend, um, to be more than just a kind of a niche thing, but this could be something that’s a lot more mainstream.
[00:05:56] Naima: Yeah. And I’ve seen that you’ve asked a lot of people as a journalist, how the pandemic has shifted and, and shaped this, um, kind of cospace trend. Um, So we’d love to hear a little bit, what are some of the insights you’ve gathered from these conversations?
[00:06:13] Amy: I think when, when the kind of, when the pandemic first hit and we were just getting started on this book, I think we had a real kind of crisis moment where we thought, is the pandemic gonna kill coliving, coworking?
Like, are we reaching a time when social distancing is gonna mean that people who were maybe open to sharing some of their living spaces might sort of really retreat and say, actually no, this is not for me.
But actually the opposite happened. Um, and this sort of idea of everyone being so distanced made people really reassess how they want more people to be in their lives and how they want more kind of meaningful connections.
And the world of coworking is slightly different cause it was so much more kind of advanced by this point. So many people are used to coworking and kind of see, see the obvious benefits, whereas coliving is something that people are still kind of getting their head around or kind of understanding how it might suit them.
[00:07:07] Naima: Yeah, absolutely. And I love, one of the first lines in the book, I believe is something about the, the boundaries have blurred between living and working.
[00:07:18] Amy: Something like that, yeah.
[00:07:20] Naima: And um, yeah, and I think the pandemic even more has, has made that kind of blurriness, um, apparent, right. People working from home. And so I think, yeah, there’s been a lot of this creative push to explore how do we blend these kind of needs both around our personal life, our working life.
Um, and, and on that. Um, so the book explores how living and working spaces can be designed to, to really facilitate connection, um, collaboration, social interaction.
Um, could you share some of the examples from the book, um, that you saw?.
[00:08:02] Amy: I love talking about examples from the book.
Um, I think the way that the book is kind of structured, um, there’s kind of a series of case studies in different kind of sections, and maybe I’ll give a little bit of an outline of backstage.
[00:08:14] Naima: That’d be great.
[00:08:14] Amy: We sort of, yeah, we started with, with the sort of student housing kind of 2.0. This new new era of student housing. Sort of taking the old holes of residence model and really ramping it up.
Um, from there onwards, we kind of then started looking, I guess what like the industry version of coliving is, which is like student living for adults and sort of taking some of those lessons, um, from student examples and applying them to people of different ages or different situations.
Some of the examples we have in that section, sort of the sort of large scale coliving and it where it had like incredible facilities, like the sort of facilities that you basically, you know, you could never afford in, in your home. Um, but being able to buy sort of through sharing.
Um, from kind of sports facilities to things like a kind of incredible big shared kitchen space where people could come together and cook together and learn to cook. Um, so that, that was kind of one of the more mainstream examples. But then, um, but there are other examples that are really interesting as well.
Um, LifeX, they’re an operator that take, um, what would be sort of rented out private apartments and turn them into coliving environments. And what’s kind of interesting about that is they really curate communities.
So six bedroom places and they’ll sort of think about the size. They furnish everything, make it so there’s complete hassle-free living experience in the same way where it’s all furnished, you know, storage, you just kind of move in. Everything is one payment, um, or your bills or you know, it’s all there together.
But there are also. They kind of within that model create opportunities, um, for people to come together in different ways. They have community events. They also, because of the way that they have this, um, this model set up in different cities, a really popular thing they have is, um, like a sort of swap setup where someone, uh, in one city, say someone living one of their properties in Copenhagen, can just reach out to, um, put like a notice up to people living in their properties in London and say, you know, I wanna do a weekend, a weekend in London. Would anyone be up for swapping?
So it gives them this opportunity to just have a kind of swap accommodation situation in other cities. So it’s really like enabling a different type of lifestyle where, people can kind of be free to travel that bit more. Especially now with new models of working where most people don’t really need a traditional office where you just can be on a laptop.
Um, and then sort of moving on from there, uh, start looking at kind of, um, more multi-generational forms of coliving.
Um, so we have a cohousing project for, called Older Women’s Co-Housing. Um, where a group of women, I think of over 50 live together in a cohousing environment and sort of support each other in a way that they don’t need external help. They kind of self-manage and you know, if someone’s ill, the others just cook meals for them for a week. And you know, they all kind of pitch in with diff in different ways.
Um, and then they also had this fantastic example of a um, basically a care home, uh, in the Netherlands that provides free housing for students. Sort of addressing the fact that there’s a real sort of student housing crisis in the Netherlands. Um, so kind of creating opportunities for younger people to kind of have an affordable living setup.
It it, it’s not just about kind of bringing young people around the older people. It’s about kind of these generations coming together and learning things from each other.
And I think really key to what we were trying to kind of achieve in this book is to say like, what we really need are lots of different models of ways in which we can live together. Some that suit some people, some that suit others, um, and increasing the, the choice so that people don’t feel like they have to fit into the kind of set boxes that standard life dictates such as that you can only really live in, in shared housing when you’re a student. Then you’re supposed to, you know, go and get married, have children, then go into senior living.
These sort of set boxes just don’t really work for people anymore and that’s why issues such as loneliness, um, are impacting people of all ages.
And this seems to be the case and a lot of my research, this idea that it can really work well for people that I guess are transition point in their lives.
Could be it, it traditionally is when you are kind of just starting out as a young person, but it could be that you go through a. It could be at a point at which maybe your children leave home and you don’t necessarily want to stay in a big house as a couple or as a single on your own.
Um, so yeah, that, that, that’s really the, sort of the message of this book is that we just need more types of housing that work for the different ways that people want to live.
[00:12:50] Naima: Yeah, I love that. Thanks for sharing those examples. Um, and since you’re a specialist, you know, in, in architecture and design, is there any kind of common thing you noticed across these?
You mentioned like kitchens, you know, facilities. Um, was there anything else from a design or architecture perspective that you’re like, oh, that that’s a trend?
[00:13:11] Amy: Do you know what? I think it’s all about balance between the design and the management, the governance.
Like, you can’t have one without the other. You can’t just have a beautifully designed coliving space. If you don’t have the, the management systems in place in order for it to work properly, then it, there’s no, there’s no no point really.
And I think that’s, that’s also when people think back of their kind of shared, you know, maybe shared house situations of their youth. That’s exactly what was missing was that kind of management system.
You know, you live in a, you live in a house with four other people. The system’s not set up to make that easy. Um, you know, you are having to kind of divide all of your bills, work out who needs to pay, what, you know, who’s, who’s responsible for furniture. Um, and then like, Whose, whose turn is it to do the washing up? All these kinds of systems.
Um, yeah, these are kind of attention points. Um, these are the kind of things that create difficulties and make it harder. And I think when people think back about bad experiences they’ve had of shared living, these are the things that are the problem.
So it’s all about how you kind of, um, bring these things together.
And then I guess the other thing as well is, um, the more you introduce sharing, the more you have to also think about privacy.
Like it’s, just because people want to share, actually privacy becomes more important because, because more of these layers exist, you kind of have to formalize them that little bit more just so it’s super clear that people don’t feel that, you know, that they can’t find the privacy that they need.
Um, and the topic of pharmacy is such an interesting one cause it’s so sensitive to, you know, it’s, it’s a thing that people like really care about.
I think there’s like an IKEA survey that mentions the sort of privacy is kind of the thing that people are most conscious of in their homes.
And in reality actually, like the, kind of the 2.4 family home is like the worst place to find privacy because there is no structures, there’s no place for you to, you know, if you are like a teenager trying to kind of find your own path to find your own space, like the modern home doesn’t really provide for that.
But if you can kind of create more purpose built buildings that facilitate that, you can kind of create that structure that allows people to feel that their privacy needs are being met just as much as their needs for socializing.
[00:15:24] Naima: That’s such a good point, and we could dive into that a lot, but I have more questions, so we’ll keep moving. Um. So Amy, we’ve seen many models of coliving spaces that are starting to bring more and more coworking into their business models and also the other way around. So coworking spaces that are, that are looking to expand into coliving.
What’s your take on this hybridization of coliving and coworking business models?
[00:15:52] Amy: I actually really think that kind of the blend of coworking and coliving or even just coworking with more traditional forms of living is like a kind of a gateway for us to sort of start being more open to forms of sharing.
Um, to sort of give a good example, I recently worked with scape on a Noiascape publication that was sort of exploring topics and the sort of starting point for those topics was a project that they did called High Street House, which is a coliving scheme.
It’s a, it’s a conversion of an old building, um, which meant that they were able to kind of, through permitted development, um, explore kind of forms of coliving that, that are more challenging under kind of current planning regulations.
Um, and so they kind of, at the base of the building is a sort of, what was a vacant shop unit. And then upstairs or different coliving units of different kind of shapes and sizes.
But what’s kind of key is that this kind of vacant shop unit at the base becomes a kind of a hub that can be used in different ways. Like, you know, during the daytime it’s, it’s often a kind of coworking space. And then it’s also used for other events. They use it for kind of community events like kind of pop-up shops or exhibitions a bit more open to the community as well. And I think it’s a really good example.
And I think there are a lot of people that would think if they had a kind of a communal workspace that they could go to with other people in their building, imagine most of them would say, yes, please sign me up.
Um, in order to make that viable, that that probably means that the homes have to be slightly smaller. but that shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a bad thing.
I think it actually potentially creates a lot more value or a lot more kind of wellbeing value to, to occupants.
[00:17:29] Naima: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for mentioning that example. And what’s the word you used? Kind of like a gateway?
[00:17:35] Amy: Yeah. I think, uh, ultimately, you know, like no idea ever works by you telling people that this is how they should live.
No one wants that.
What you really have to do is kind of create examples that actually are more attracted to people.
And that’s how, you know, they sort of start to kind of dip their toe in the water, I guess, and sort of start to understand the benefits. Cause I think, I think there are a lot of people that would be better off in kind of shared living environments, but would never dream of thinking it would be for them.
[00:18:05] Naima: Mm. Yeah. Great point. And um, another thought here, kind of around the business model side of this, because we’ve seen that some coliving spaces struggle actually to get the revenue that they need to be financially sustainable just through rent. And so they, you know, coworking is actually a way to support in diversifying their revenue streams.
And then also, um, coworking spaces expanding into coliving and how that supports them in their business. Do you have any thoughts on that from like a business financial lens?
[00:18:39] Amy: I mean, I not gonna pretend that I understand the financial models very well, but I have sort of spoken to people who are more in this, in this field. And generally from the real estate perspective, like coliving is a really exciting prospect because there are certain buildings that, for whatever reason, just don’t work for traditional layouts.
Coliving does potentially kind of create another option or another way of, of making a building that maybe wasn’t viable, when you try and divide it up into, into certain types or sizes of homes can function much more efficiently. Um, through, through the kind of the coliving model with the idea that the private homes are, are smaller, but then you create different types of shared spaces and you’re not necessarily tied by where in the building they have to be.
You can kind of, I think it does give you that little bit more flexibility to, to try to try out different things.
[00:19:33] Naima: Yeah. And what would you say are some of your favorite projects that just like really excite you, um, that you’ve seen? Yeah, I mean, you’ve mentioned Noiascape. Um, I know the Davidson Prize recently, the 2022 theme was coliving, um, yeah. What was it called? A, a New Future or something?
[00:19:54] Amy: Future. Yeah. That’s actually one of, yeah, probably like two projects that I’ve seen recently that I think have really excited me. Um, and that’s, that’s the first one.
So the winner of that, that competition, which was a fantastic process actually. Um, probably one of the most rewarding judging experiences I’ve ever been involved in, because looking through these proposals, And sort of the other judges, we had some fantastic conversations about what the future of living could be.
And the winning proposal was this idea called Coliving in the Countryside. Um, looking at the idea of people that want to live in rural areas, um, because in, you know, that it isn’t really possible unless you have a lot of money to be, you know, in small, in sort of small villages, particularly in England.
We have quite closed communities where, you know, the only way to get into them is to be able to sort of buy a house, a family house. And if you’re not a family, that doesn’t work. So this proposal was looking at, looking at ways in which, um, a coliving model could kind of help to kind of diversify some of these, these rural villages, um, and promote more multi-generational communities.
And the other example, um, was this project in Switzerland that is basically a, a coliving house, but designed to look like a, like a normal house. It’s kind of, it’s five coliving units with shared living spaces. So in terms of, in terms of how it works, it’s not actually that different to a lot of coliving schemes I’ve seen.
But the idea is all about the aesthetic. It’s like kind of how to integrate coliving into a neighborhood in a way that for other people living in the neighborhood, they don’t feel like they’re not sure what it is or that it’s something different, something other.
Um, and for the people living there, you know, their home looks like the other homes in the neighborhood.
So it’s all about creating kind of opportunities for similarities and for kind of connections so that these ideas can start to be a bit more palatable for people.
[00:21:48] Naima: Wow. I love that. Um, one little follow up question on that actually is, um, cuz you touched earlier on affordability as kind of a big issue.
Um, have you, in the conversations you were having as a judge or other things, um, talked about that topic, how shared living can help address the housing crisis, the affordability, the access to, to homes.
[00:22:11] Amy: It has to a degree, but it’s a tricky one to talk about at this time, just because at the moment most coliving options are not cheaper and in some instances are more expensive.
Um, That said, it is still, you know, I think if coliving became more mainstream, it definitely could be more affordable as an option.
Um, and I think it’s, yeah, it’s kind of also like, it’s sort of our, our way of thinking about affordability is kind of entrenched in the systems that we currently live in.
So , if you are moving into a coliving place, your bills are often already included. The place is already furnished. You don’t have to go out and buy furniture. Often it has subscriptions or other sort of facilities. You know, say you’ve got a gym as part of your building, you don’t have to pay an extra for that, like a sort of subscription.
So there’s so many things to kind of consider and, and you see a lot of kind of newspaper, paper articles when kind of coliving buildings come out and say, look, you know, you’re paying this much to live in this tiny place.
And it’s hard because, we don’t really quantify how much it costs when you kind of move into a new place to fit it out, furnish it with everything that you need yourself.
Um, yeah, and mainly because, especially in the rental market, you know, if you, you, no one would ever, no one ever goes for furnish places because the quality was also low before, like, now we’re sort of getting to a point where this, this is very much a new idea that you might move in somewhere that you wouldn’t need to kind of swap out what was there because it was already a very high standard.
So, I, I do, I definitely think affordability is going to be a benefit. It’s just, we’re not quite there yet, and I think there’s a little bit of work to be done, um, and this kind of coliving becoming more mainstream in order for us to get there.
[00:23:48] Naima: Yeah. Cool. Yeah. Well thanks for your, for your thoughts on that. Um, what are your top tips on architecture and design for shared living operators and developers?
[00:24:00] Amy: Uh, good one. And to be honest, quite a lot of them I think, have kind of come up in this conversation already. Um, you know, this idea of making sure that you kind of create, create good management structures in order to, in order to kind of manage spaces, kind of creating definitions between private spaces and shared spaces.
Um, I think. I think ultimately it’s more, I guess, a question of the considerations and the things that, that get considered in projects and things that don’t.
Um, acoustics is a big one. You know, not thinking about how acoustics work. Acoustics is a big kind of signifier of privacy. So, you know, you just, because you have a wall between a space and another space, if you can hear what’s going on in the other space and you don’t feel you have privacy. So acoustics is definitely a thing that I think is maybe not, not always a first consideration and perhaps needs to be.
Um, I think thinking a little bit about materials and kind of robustness of spaces, um, especially when you’re kind of working with rentals where you’ve got a bit more high volume, you have to really think about, good quality things, things that will last, materials that will look better when they’re worn, as opposed to, you know, looking aged and worn out quickly.
Um, I mean, a lot, a lot of the principles of designing good coliving are the same as the principles for designing good architecture, really. Um, you know, it’s just things like light, air, quality, all these kinds of things that, you know, make, make kind of quality homes.
Um, but I think, I think for, for sort of developers particularly, I think thinking about management structures is really, really key.
Um mm-hmm. I’ve spoken to some operators before. Um, that had one idea when they sort of started out and completely kind of changed it as they kind of went on.
Depending on the size, size of size of people you’re talking about how much they want to self-manage, how much they want things to be managed for them.
So it’s a bit of a push and pull and I think it’s important to kind of get that balance right and understand that you might not get it right straight away and it might be a little bit of a, an experimental period when you wanna kind of work together with residents in order to get things right.
[00:26:08] Naima: Yeah. A bit of a co-creation process to make sure you’re really meeting the needs.
[00:26:12] Amy: Yeah. And I think like there’ve been loads of different, there’ve been loads of, kind of examples of that work in different ways.
I mean, one of the, one of the coliving examples in the book is, uh, a project called K9, um, in Sweden. One of the things that I found so fascinating about that place is the way that like their entire decision making process is based on, um, full consensus.
Um, and that works really well for them. But I can’t imagine that working very well in many colivings. You know, it, it’s, it’s a kind of, it’s a condition that’s very specific to them and how they work.
[00:26:44] Naima: Yeah. No, that’s, that’s a good point. As you say, there’s so many different ways and, and to meet different people’s needs and desires.
So, Amy, to begin wrapping up this conversation, um, at the beginning we talked a bit about the hybridization of coliving and coworking.
I’d like to ask your opinion on the even broader trend, uh, this hybridization happening, um, between and among hospitality BTR, so Built To Rent, um, PBSA and, and other real estate industries that are coming together as dynamic mixed use, um, developments and neighborhood hubs.
I think you would agree that the way we are developing the cities and neighborhoods of tomorrow is, is changing. So, what’s, what’s your perspective on this and how do you see coliving other cospace models and the broader real estate design trend evolving in the years ahead?
[00:27:46] Amy: I mean, I think it. It’s kind of just symptomatic of the way the, that a lot of things are going.
You know, we’re sort of, you know, we’re seeing kind of more of a sharing economy in the way, in the way that we use technology, uh, or technology’s enabling us to share in more and more ways.
Um, and then hospitality, you know, the sort of, the idea of kind of service, a kind of more service led approach, um, is kind of bleeding over from hospitality into, you know, into workplace through coworking and then into, into the live space through coliving.
But I think there are lots of other kind of, um, things that are, topics that are kind of coming up at the moment, issues regarding the climate crisis biodiversity that are sort of like, going hand in hand with coliving, um, and sort of creating different kind of like new ideas.
I actually was inno for the Oley architecture, um, uh, which was all themed about neighborhoods.
And there was one example that was quite a straight coliving project that was a, a city center apartment building where the project is, um, not just about rental, but about places for sale. So looking like actually kind of a, a developer built cohousing community. So the idea of starting to think about people buying, buying homes with coliving in mind was something I hadn’t really seen before.
Um, and then just different, different kind of ways of, um, shaping kind of neighborhoods. Like introducing rewilding and different ways.
So I think like this kind of relationship between the types of spaces that people might share is something that we’ll start to see more of, you know, and kind of, like, I guess putting a little bit more trust in your communities to kind of find the right ways to use spaces, um, for their own wellbeing. Um, for, for all kinds of purposes really.
[00:29:33] Naima: Yeah. Really exciting to, to see this trend evolving. Um, Amy, something we like to, to ask all of our guests is to share something that is weird or unique about yourself? Could you share something along those, those lines? ,
[00:29:51] Amy: it’s a tricky question, but I’m gonna kind of keep it in the coliving, uh, theme.
Uh, cause people often ask me, like, or do you live in coliving? Because it’s kind of the big, the office question when you, when you kind of, it very much working in this area and my, my kind of experience has been very traditional. You know, I live with my partner in a, in a flat that we own.
But, um, my ambition is very much to, uh, found my own coliving kind of community in my old, in my senior years. So that’s why I’m hoping for the future.
[00:30:25] Naima: Well, that’s exciting. I guess you’ve gotten a lot of input and learnings that you can put to use for that.
[00:30:32] Amy: Um, but you never know. It may be, uh, it may be completely commonplace by the time I’m retired, but let’s see.
[00:30:38] Naima: That’s true, that’s true. Um, okay. And then finally, what does living consciously mean to you?
[00:30:46] Amy: I think, I mean, I, I think it’s kind of almost self-explanatory.
I think it’s just being more mindful about everything really.
It’s about, it’s about thinking about people, um, as much as it’s about thinking about planet.
Um, and it’s putting yourself in other people’s positions and really kind of trying to create the best situation for everyone.
And not just people for other species as well.
[00:31:17] Penny: Really great to hear this conversation with Amy.
You know, I actually met her at the All Together Now book launch, along with Amy’s co-author, Naomi Cleaver. Um, and yeah, I have their book. It’s a brilliant read. Um, they’re both incredibly talented and experienced.
[00:31:35] Naima: Yeah, so cool. You got to meet Amy in person cuz I really enjoyed the conversation, at least virtually with her. And, um, also really yeah, found her insights into the coliving and coworking revolution, uh, really insightful.
[00:31:50] Penny: Yes. And since we’re talking about a revolution, I think it’s important to first talk about some of the numbers behind it.
Got some stats for you now, Naima.
[00:32:01] Naima: Oh, good.
[00:32:02] Penny: So it’s been really clear in the last decade or so that coworking has really taken off.
Um, and so just to give a taste, uh, the research shows that for flexible office space, which includes coworking spaces, um, these have grown at an annual rate of 23% since 2010. And the coworking market is predicted to grow by over $13 billion between 2021 and 2025.
[00:32:30] Naima: Wow.
[00:32:30] Penny: Yeah. Wow. So the industry is experiencing really rapid growth, and this is largely due to the development of startups all over the world.
Coworking spaces can now be found in over 100 countries, which was definitely not the case 10 years ago. So it really is a revolution.
Interestingly, research also shows that people are choosing coworking spaces that offer amenities that enhance their lifestyle and have a strong sense of community. Sounds a bit like coliving actually.
And we, we really see that coliving is riding on the tails of this rise too. And actually one of the lines that Amy is known for saying is that cospace is here to stay. Um, cospace referring to spaces that foster connection, collaboration, and co-creation. Um, so yes, that’s a little bit about coworking.
So Naima, I believe you’ve got a few stats about coliving.
[00:33:24] Naima: I do, penny. Indeed. So in terms of the coliving trend, global investment in coliving developments have increased threefold each year between 2015 and 2019.
And the pandemic, while it did shake things up for the industry, seems to have only amplified interest in this more connected way of living.
We’re seeing coliving companies that are raising hundreds of millions of dollars of equity to meet their expansion targets. And the UK now even has a dedicated coliving fund called the COLIV Fund, um, for this purpose.
Another sign we see of this, uh, coliving revolution is all of these tech providers developing technology specifically for shared living operations and spaces. So that’s quite exciting.
Uh, in addition, PWC recently ranked coliving as the third highest prospect sector for investment and development in Europe.
And uh, I also wanna mention the ULI and JLLs European Coliving Best Practice Guide because it highlights the most significant growth drivers for the coliving sector, as well as investment data and stats on coliving beds by country and status, at least for the European market. So yeah, it’s a very comprehensive report on the European coliving market for anyone who’s interested.
And currently the UK is leading with the largest stock of coliving around the world, but we are seeing it taking off everywhere, especially in Europe, the US, India, and other parts of Asia.
And in fact, you can check out some of these examples of coliving spaces around the world in our Coliving Guide, which you can find on our website.
[00:35:05] Penny: Yes, that’s right. And since you’re mentioning the guide, I think it’d be good to point out a few other sections that it includes. Uh, the history, benefits and potential of coliving.
And in particular, I want to mention section six of the guide, um, which outlines some of the different types of coliving targeted at different demographics. And, uh, I think it makes sense to bring this up because it really connects with what Amy was talking about in terms of this need for more types of living to meet the demands of diverse people at different stages in their lives.
Um, and in this section we’ve got some stats, some examples on coliving for digital nomads, for for students, entrepreneurs, seniors, and a few other groups as well.
So make sure to check it out, especially over time as the guide is going to evolve, as the movement evolves too.
[00:35:57] Naima: Yeah. Cool. Thanks for mentioning that Penny. And I think the other question we wanna flesh out a bit more in this kind of post conversation reflections about the coliving and coworking revolution is what is needed for, is the sector need to fulfill its full potential and to thrive.
[00:36:16] Penny: Yeah, for sure.
[00:36:17] Amy: So, our answer to this question is captured in, in the Conscious Coliving Manifesto, which basically serves as a guide and framework for building connection centered communities.
Because we believe, and the message that we’ve been transmitting since 2017 basically, is that the sector needs to be creating spaces that really focus on connection in order to help solve the biggest challenges that we’re facing and for the sector to really flourish and thrive.
[00:36:48] Penny: Yes. And just before you go on, uh, do you want to quickly give a history of how the manifesto came to be and why it started?
[00:36:57] Naima: Yeah, sure. Good idea. So let’s say for me, it really came out of my own experience with loneliness. And then realizing that actually it was a systemic issue. It wasn’t just me suffering from it.
And so looking for ways to address the issue of loneliness, um, coliving emerged as a solution.
And, uh, I was in London at the time, so started getting together with other people interested in, in coliving from all different backgrounds, from architects to wellbeing experts, environmentalists, policy people, and yeah, we just started bringing our brains and hearts together, um, to really explore, you know, this potential that, that we saw for coliving in the world.
Yeah. Penny, curious, uh, what’s your take, what are your memories about these kind of initial interactions and, and developing of the manifesto?
[00:37:55] Penny: Oh, yes. I, I think for me, what first, uh, brought me to coliving was, was academic research centered around environmental sustainability. and the potential for types of shared living, including coliving to be more sustainable.
And I think I was always really intrigued by the community element.
Um, but as I learned more, I began to see how deeply community and coordinating with others and sharing with others how deeply that’s intertwined with sustainability.
And getting into these conversations about wellbeing, about social connection, sustainability, I think an aha moment for all of us was when we saw the, the, the thing that brought these different ideas together was this essence of connection.
Connection to yourself, connection to others, connection with the wider world.
That moment as well where we decided to bring that together as a visual representation and to really try and develop something that feels simple, feels compelling, and feels memorable.
Uh, which I hope we have done. Though I have to say that version one of the manifesto, looking back, was not the most visually appealing thing I’ve ever seen. But I feel like we’ve come away since then.
[00:39:19] Naima: That’s so funny. That’s so true. I really remember that moment, Penny, when you drew it out and we were all like, yes, this is it.
This is the heart of it.
And it’s definitely evolved a long way since then. But I think the essence was really captured. Um, at that time, so yeah, nice to go down memory lane a little bit.
And so after that, basically we started presenting this right at conferences. Yes. We presented it at the Summit in 2018 in Paris. And, uh, from there, people just kind of started approaching us and asking us, you know, this is great. How do we bring it to life?
And so that’s kind of what spurred us into actually developing, you know, starting Conscious Coliving as a, as an organization, as a company. Um, and since then the manifesto has, actually, uh, been a finalist in the Coliving Awards and the public vote winner for Best Initiative Fostering Coliving.
Um, and we’ve even seen many operators creating their own manifesto based on it.
And I think why it really resonates with people so much is because of this focus on connection.
Uh, cause I think consciously or subconsciously people feel oh, that at the root of so many of our challenges today is disconnection.
You know, if we look around, we’re more and more disconnected from ourselves, did from other people, and we’re disconnected from nature and the wider world.
And so this is what’s really at the losing so much loneliness, so many mental health disorders, and so much environmental damage and in fact, research from Yale from Stanford and other reputable sources are really backing this up through studies that are showing that living in a more connect way can reduce anxiety, can reduce depression, can boost our immune systems and our health, uh, increase overall wellbeing. Um, also our resilience trust, um, and foster more pro-social and pro environmental behavior.
So we really see that this focus, this intention and commitment around connection at these three levels, um, is really the guiding light that will help the coliving sector and coworking sector fulfill, you know, their full potential and becoming this revolution that will help bring about, um, this new paradigm that better aligns with what people and the planet need.
Yes, Naima, I really,
[00:41:50] Penny: really like and resonate with how you say that. Um, so, uh, for listeners who are not familiar with it yet, you can check out the Conscious Coliving Manifesto on consciouscoliving.com.
And um, on this page as well. Um, there’s, uh, actually a really beautiful description of, uh, some of the research Naima was referring to there about connection.
It’s super interesting, um, and as well as this in the FAQ section of this page, it’s a whole bunch of really practical suggestions on how to foster connection at these three different levels.
Connection with self, with others, with nature.
The manifesto itself in terms of its design, um, what you’ll see in the center at the heart of this diagram is connection. Connection with self, connection with others, and connection with the wider world.
Um, and then around the diagram, you see the three core aspects: wellbeing, community, and environmental sustainability.
And then beneath this are the four underlying pillars which we think of as the enablers which enable, um, really connected coliving to happen.
And these are number one, wise, management and operations.
Number two, supportive spatial design.
Number three, sustainable financial and business models.
And number four, aligned policies and regulations.
[00:43:14] Naima: Yeah. That’s great, Penny. Thanks for drawing that out for us in our minds. And just to mention that in other episodes we do go a bit more into some of the issues we mentioned before in terms of loneliness. So episode two looks at loneliness.
Episode three looks at the shared living and climate emergency, and episode seven, which is the next one coming up, dives more deeply into the housing crisis and the role that Shared Living can play in helping to address it.
But yeah, just to wrap this point up, we know there is a pressure to make efficiencies in your operations or to spend less on delivering that really unique community experience.
But everything that we’ve seen and you know, through all of the people that we’ve worked with, um, it just really pays off to invest in connection and in developing strong and authentic communities. It makes good business sense.
Um, and if you need support in understanding that or convincing your investors or upper management or whoever on the business case of community, then we are happy to help.
[00:44:24] Penny: Yes, exactly. And all of this ties in as well with what Amy was mentioning about the importance of balancing the design of coliving, but also that community management side of things, right?
[00:44:36] Naima: Yeah, definitely. We couldn’t agree more with that point. Um, first on the design side, it really does matter how spaces are designed in order to foster social connection, but also, making sure that the privacy side of things is taken care of, especially, you know, for taking care of introverts in your community, which, um, as mentioned, we dive more into episode two about that.
[00:44:59] Penny: So to care for those introverts, right?
[00:45:02] Naima: Oh yeah, definitely.
[00:45:04] Penny: I, I say this as one by the way.
[00:45:06] Naima: Yeah.
[00:45:08] Penny: help. Help us out, guys. Help us out.
[00:45:14] Naima: Um, and then on the balancing this physical design side with the actual management side of things, um, right. This is what we’re always talking about at Conscious Coliving, and it’s a big part of what we support with and offer in terms of strategies, trainings, content to not only manage, but really facilitate community.
So for anyone who hasn’t read the Community Facilitation Handbook, uh, I highly suggest you check it out. You can download it for free at consciousliving.com.
[00:45:45] Penny: Yes, and I also quickly wanted to say one other point about the importance of measuring and optimizing your impact. And I mentioned this because we see that many stakeholders still don’t fully understand what coliving is, nor the benefits it can have in terms of social connection and sustainability.
And if we have more data on this, uh, what it’s gonna do is help create that more enabling environment for coliving, especially in terms of getting policy makers and investors on board.
[00:46:14] Naima: Yeah, good point. Penny.
Measure what you treasure, as Matt would say.
[00:46:19] Penny: He does like to say that.
[00:46:22] Naima: Yes. And uh, just to wrap up this episode, since we’ve talked a lot about connection, I wanted to end on a quote by Robert Putnam, who is a professor of public policy at Harvard University and author of the book, Bowling Alone, which is all about how the US has undergone a collapse in social, civic, and political life.
So he says, quote:
Community connectedness is not just about warm, fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives. Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy.
So a key takeaway from this conversation, I think, is that the more the coliving and coworking sectors really foster connection at the three levels of self, others, and nature, the more they can fulfill their full potential.
Well, Penny, thanks so much for joining as my co-host today.
[00:47:31] Penny: Thank you, Naima, really enjoyed the conversation today, and a really big thank you to Amy and all of you out there for listening.
[00:47:42] Naima: In the next episode. We are going to dive into the topic of how shared living can help address the housing crisis with Diana Lind, who is author of the book, Brave New Home, our Future in Smarter, Simpler, Happier Housing.
Coliving Conversations season one. A co-production between Conscious Coliving and GoHumango!
Till the next episode!.
What comes next in your coliving journey?
Join a Coliving Community
If you made it all the way to the bottom of these show notes, then coliving might be the next move for you. As has been noted, the benefits of coliving are many. These communities can be not only a lovely place to live, but also a great place to work.
If you are curious, then go ahead and find your coliving community.
Create & Optimise Coliving Communities
Whether you are a team member at a big real estate company, or part of a small start-up, innovating can feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are many passionate organisations and individuals here to support you, including us at Conscious Coliving and our partners. To begin with, make sure to explore existing coliving research and resources.
Also, we are here to help you with further education, as well as bespoke support.