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Frost on… co-working

what makes a modern co-working space tick?

Co-working spaces now dominate the industry landscape. We toured some of London’s many facilities to find out how brands are setting themselves apart in a competitive environment.

Co-working spaces have exploded over the last decade and become the dominant market influencing the sector. The proliferation of these spaces has led to branching innovations in the ethos of design, reflecting and influencing the latest working practices. The modern workforce demands a space that offers more than simply an office or desk, there is an expectation for a workplace to be a holistic experience and lifestyle hub. There is now an assumption that a modern co-working building will supply on-site gyms, yoga studios, zen gardens, sleeping pods etc. However, as the facilities become identikit, how do brands stand out? The modern tenant, with access to reviews, feedback and invested in their own wellbeing, will likely be much more familiar with the ethos and reputation of a landlord, so developing a brand with a reputation for combining facilities with feel is crucial.

It becomes much harder to define, but the environment of a space therefore is now as important as the facilities. While the facilities may reflect the demands of the modern, younger workforce, it’s important that a space reflects the diverse needs of the population.

hospitality

The biggest game-changer has been the influence of the hospitality sector. Many hotel providers are taking steps into the co-working market and this influence is seeping into the designs of existing providers. Increasingly front of house facilities in offices are adopting the meet and greet experience of higher end hotels. Office space receptionists are now concierges, providing information about the building, locality, and giving a warm and proactive start to the experience of a space. The integration of F&B into entrance spaces immediately provides a warm smell and feel, enhancing this hospitality like experience.

Office provider Fora have integrated this across their spaces. Their new space in Borough has a distinct hospitality feel. We were warmly greeted by a concierge space manned by two Fora Guest Experience Managers (GEMs), offered teas and coffees and immediately set at ease. A high class restaurant and bar space is visible just beyond the entrance. The deli café is part of the lobby. Calm and understated tones, with high quality materials and finishes, create a premium feel of a space catered to discerning professionals.   

identity

Another hook for a modern refurbishment is the heritage of either the building itself, or designing an environment that reflects the local context. This gives an identity to a space and working life that can feel transitory and untethered. Most modern co-working spaces seek to create a network amongst its tenants. Giving the space a contextualised identity and singular feel catalyses these communities. The space therefore has a cultural and geographic link while being designed for the future.

Soho Works new space in Shoreditch is a great example of this; the location’s industrial focus reflected in the stripped back feel of the space. Many of the buildings historic sliding doors are retained to serve as entrances to meeting rooms while retaining an urban vibe. Basic finishes continue the industrial theme. There is an almost antiquated design space provided to tenants, with manual tools supplied. A somewhat anachronistic 3D printer in the corner demonstrates that while the feel is stripped back, the space is geared for the modern industry. Soho as a brand is identified with a cool, hip atmosphere and they have transplanted this into their co-working enterprise. Taking their cues from the existing building and their brand ethos, they have created a space that combines the young, creative and modish with the historic and rustic.

feel

Other providers create a theme that transcends their locations. With a lot of space handed over to ‘non fee earning’ areas, the above mentioned residential facilities, the space for actual co-working needs to maximise its profitability potential. Creating a feel of intimacy without it being cramped, proximity without invading personal space, can be a dilemma. This conundrum is successfully eased by many providers by creating a homely, intimate and comfortable environment. Artwork adorning the walls, a low key musical soundtrack provides a space workers can relax in and stay focussed when surrounded by their co-working community.

When we walked into the Uncommon space Fulham, we were immediately struck by the abundance of flora. The emphasis on worker wellbeing and relaxation is clear. Plants hang from the ceiling and creep up the walls. The walls in the entrance lobby, which serves as part of the co-working area, feature large windows meaning a constant supply of high levels of daylight. Low level, ambient music filters through the space. You are greeted at the door not only by an enthusiastic member of staff, but by sights, sounds and smells all designed to induce a sense of comfort. As you move through the building you notice each area is infused with its own unique scent. The attention to detail is a testament to how seriously Uncommon take worker comfort. By focussing on wellbeing and welfare, natural light and nature, ambience and atmosphere, Uncommon create a blueprint for co-working happiness which they are able to replicate across their network.

growth

Of course, no company wants to stay in co-working forever. While entrepreneurs, start-ups, and freelancers provide near constant tenant supply, and have precipitated the boom in co-working, when a company grows in size it will invariably graduate to its own private office. Flexible offices then, which provide this duality of workplaces, must ensure they are in a position to facilitate growth for it’s tenants and be ready to capitalise when they are looking to upscale their premises. Providing a quality co-working space along with flexibility and opportunity for growth is therefore a priority.

Workspace’s latest flagship space, The Frames, places clear emphasis on creating a welcoming space for co-working and collaboration which inspires comfort and loyalty in its tenants. The entrance sequence is always at the heart of a Workspace building – a desire to give impact, encourage movement and facilitate collaboration results in well thought out space incorporating reception, co-working and café. The double height space of the entrance at The Frames gives immediate drama while providing a focus to the community and networking opportunities that being a Workspace customer offers. A contemporary piece of wall art dominates and proves a colourful foil to the otherwise cool and restrained backdrop of black and timber. Workspace business model relies on fledgling businesses graduating to its upper level private spaces as they grow, and this focus on operational excellence, flexibility and growth is achieved in the hi-spec professional finish and carefully considered layouts.

verdict

It is clear then, that a successful modern co-working space must provide the anticipated lifestyle facilities, but also must have a clear ethos and identity. Whether it’s grounding a space in history, emphasising worker comfort and collaboration, or drawing influence from other industries, or indeed blending all three, it is apparent that the modern workforce expects their needs to be met not only in terms of lifestyle, but attention to their emotional needs, their senses and their sensibilities.

November 2019

It’s a typically busy month at Frost, with several projects across various stages of development.

Mare Street – As part of a design intervention at Mare Street we have designed bespoke phone booths, including glass doors and velvet wall cladding.
Signal Works – These dramatic corten window reveals are currently being installed at Signal Works.
Parkhall – We are in the process of designing our latest Workspace project, Parkhall Business Centre. We are refurbishing 20,000 sqft of space to provide offices, meeting rooms and breakout spaces.
The Biscuit Factory – Another Workspace project, The Biscuit Factory, is starting on site this month. We are refurbishing the 25,000 sqft of office space across 4 storeys.
East Horsley House – We are delighted with this now completed beautiful new build home.
Claygate House – Our latest project in Claygate is now finished and looking great. The works included a rear extension and internal remodelling.
Hampton House – We are also delighted with this completed project in Hampton, including a rear extension and significant internal remodelling.
Esher House – We are now on site with this wonderful home in Surrey. We are really excited to see how the final designs progress. The works include extensions, a garage conversion and internal remodelling.

The Light Box – Team Visit

The team at Frost went to check out the recently completed Workspace project The Light Box.

An additional floor was added as well as interior refurbishment, we were delighted to see the job carried out by our friends at Collins Construction.

Check out pictures below, and more details on the project here.

China Works – Completed!

The interior refurbishment works at China Works have now finished. In collaboration with Bluebottle, we renovated the old Royal Dalton building and have breathed new life into the space, creating a fresh, modern co-working environment. Check out more pictures here.

Frost on… extensions

Extending your existing home by linking to an outbuilding is an increasingly popular and cost effective way of expanding your living space by making use of a garage or storage space that is no longer used the way it was intended. The way we live and use our homes is changing all the time. We value high quality living spaces for working, relaxing and entertaining over a place to keep the car dry! Similarly, a nicely converted garage to provide a stunning sun room or play room may not get the use it deserves if you need to walk out in the rain to use it on a winter’s day.

This is where the simple extension link is a great opportunity to do something a bit playful and different. By joining spaces together they can become much more useable and can really add space that is both valuable and enjoyable.

A glazed link is often a great idea. Not only does it bring light into a space that might otherwise be dark and enclosed, it also allows the two elements to be read separately, providing a sense of the site’s historic narrative. Inside the link, the external walls of the building become internal walls, which can work out quite nicely – our Hare Lane project used the exposed brickwork to add character to the new space. By creating a distinction between the traditional and contemporary you can clarify what’s new, what’s been retained, and explore the relationship between the two.

If the outbuilding is in close proximity to the house, whether and how you link them depends on how you live and intend to use the space in the future. Flexibility of use is important, it may start as a study or playroom for the kids, but over time become a media room, home office, or artist’s studio. The possibilities are endless and it’s important to retain versatility while ensuring the design and function reflects the short term requirements of the space.

It is of course important to consider planning and building control requirements when undertaking any building work. Whether or not planning permission is required is project specific and dependent on a variety of factors, such as proximity to boundaries, neighbouring buildings and if the building is listed or protected. We recommend seeking advice from the local authority before proceeding with any plans.

With a little knowledge and creativity, there are many ways to give those under used spaces in your home a new purpose.

 

China Works – Team Visit

The team at Frost went to check out the nearly completed Workspace project China Works.

Taking in the new Club Workspace area, Cafe, common areas and refurbished corridors, we were delighted to see the job carried out by our friends at Interior Motives.

Check out pictures below, and more details on the project here.

We’re hiring!

We are looking for an experienced Senior Project Architect to join our vibrant team in South West London.

We have a number of projects at all stages of development in the Residential and Commercial sectors, including multiple office projects.

Skills and experience:

  • 3-5 years post Part 3 experience
  • Site running experience
  • Experience delivering projects to the highest standards
  • Experience in Residential and Commercial projects is preferable
  • Strong design sensibility
  • Proficient in AutoCAD
  • Excellent communication skills in spoken and written English

Candidates must be eager to progress their career. We are a small but growing team so there are opportunities to take on more responsibility and grow with the practice.

Send your CV and portfolio to admin@frostarchitects.com if you’re interested.

The Light Box – Work Continues

Works continue to progress at the Light Box on both the internal remodelling and the rooftop extension.

These washrooms are a bespoke design fitted by Stevens Washrooms, featuring light fittings by Urban Cottage Industries.

The rooftop extension is also starting to take shape, check out this great panoramic picture taken on site.

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China Works – Almost There!

Works are progressing well on site at China Works and we are excited for its nearing completion.

The original fabric of the building has been uncovered and renovated. Exposed ceiling and services reveal the ornate cast iron columns which are retained and used as a feature of the new spaces.

Learn more about this project here

Frost on… wellbeing

Office environments are continually evolving as we adjust and adapt to meet the demands and opportunities that technology offers. But are we meeting the needs of the modern-day worker? The ability to be ‘on-line’ and available 24/7 puts a strain on the mental and physical health of us all. Working environments, therefore, need to respond to meet this changing dynamic. The mental environment is as important as the physical environment and wellbeing is now high up on the workplace agenda.

So what makes for a place of wellbeing? Designers are well practiced in putting the pieces of the physical jigsaw together to create high quality spaces. We are masters at using light, colour, ergonomics and materials to create spaces people want to be in. But we need to look beyond these physical and sensory experiences. We need to consider working practices. Admittedly this requires a receptive client and is perhaps beyond our normal remit, but the commercial realities of offices are changing. Technology has given people more options than we thought possible. Employers are having to alter contractual terms to meet the demands of the employee, who now leads the charge when it comes to how we work.

What can we do as designers? We now need to be experts in knowing the market (location, technology, style), knowing the demands of the workforce, ultimately knowing our clients better than they know themselves.

Every day the market makes strides in evolving trends and our industry follows. Can we predict and anticipate the next trend?

Co-working is the hot trend at the moment. This relatively small part of the sector has given fresh impetus to the changing workplace. Subscription membership, hot desks, dedicated desks, team rooms – all variations on how we structure space. These spaces are popular not only for sole traders and start-ups, but give the range of environments everyone likes to work in – informal work areas, quiet work areas, presentation spaces, meeting rooms, break out, cafe. This mix of spaces allows the chance to ‘switch off’, unwind and have a change of pace. These spaces and the means to do so need to be part of the workplace offer. We must look beyond our surroundings and embrace aspects such as nutrition, exercise and fun, if we are to keep pace with the demands of today’s workforce.

Only then can we hope to have well-beings.

By Daniel Frost RIBA

Works Begin at Mare Street Studios

Enabling works have now started on site at Mare Street Studios, our redevelopment of a business centre for Workspace Group in Hackney.

The low grade existing buildings at the rear of the site will be demolished and the retained main building refurbished to facilitate the delivery of high quality office spaces, co-working areas and a large café.

Learn more about the project here.

Crown Estate – Future Offices

In 2017 the Crown Estate commissioned a competition for Architects to design the office of the future, utilising their building portfolio.

Our proposal for the competition was for a Distributed Office environment that allows businesses to retain a fixed, leased office space while offering shared resources, spaces and facilities available on-demand. With greater physical flexibility, fixed office spaces can be smaller than required in a traditional office setup. Businesses subscribed to the proposed co-working membership scheme will be able to offer their employees access to a large network of office spaces across the city. With greater flexibility workers will be able to work more locally and maintain a desired level of wellbeing.

Within each office hub, businesses will be offered a workBOX; a fixed unit to provide private space to complement the preferred operational model of each business. Each workBOX varies in size and provides traditional office space in one location or a network of private office spaces across the city, or simply a fixed storage space for businesses to spill out into larger shared working areas. The membership structure will provide co-working spaces, allowing start-ups to work alongside larger, more established companies and creating the possibility for networking and collaboration.

The growth of the Knowledge Economy and developments in technology are expected to be major factors in the next shift in office working practices and design. Our workBOX proposal provides a platform for the evolution of the workplace.

By Abre Etteh RIBA

Signal House – Sketch Ideas

Our concept for reinvigorating the amenity of Signal House, a residential block in Southwark.

The existing car park will be converted to provide a new entrance for the flats, a small office unit, new mail/parcel room and landscaping that creates an ‘urban oasis’.

By Simona Cojocaru

Frost Christmas Party

For our Christmas party this year the team kicked things off with homemade cocktails and secret santa in the office, before going bowling at Queens in Queensway. A nail biting affair ended in a tie between Sam and Dan. We followed this up with a fantastic dinner at No.65 & King, which we would highly recommend! Thanks for the staff at these venues for having us!

New Covent Garden Market Completed!

Frost are thrilled that our most recent Commercial project has been completed at New Covent Garden Market. We designed the fit out of the Food Exchange Building, providing office space for SME’s in the food industry. The team took a trip to check out the finished project, check out some images from our visit below.

See more photos and learn more about this project here