This article is by Simon Bird
Simon is a director of the practice, taking a leading role on strategic, interior and architectural projects.
We should take this opportunity to rethink how we live – and exploring co-living models is central to that.
The end of the third lockdown is now in sight, but the impact of lockdown life is here to stay. We have all looked at our homes differently, and are left with new preferences and desires for the ways we live and the places we reside. This could be a garden to relax in, housemates to bond with, or private space to concentrate and work from. A range of housing typologies is key – to allow people to choose how they want to live after this year of self-discovery. And there’s one model that is well placed for this brave new world: co-living.
Interest and investment in co-living has been on the up for several years. Now it’s clearer than ever how vital social interaction and a sense of community are to our wellbeing – while at the same time the housing crisis is worsening and living costs are rising. Co-living shows us a new way of using space that can enhance the quality of our home environments while limiting costs as a simple all-in product.
“Imagine a 200-unit development where each home contributes some of its private space for collective use.”
Co-living isn’t an excuse to force people into smaller homes, as is sometimes misreported. It’s a radical and exciting way of thinking differently about space. Rather than rent netting a tenant a bedroom and shared kitchen / living area, the co-living model brings access to a vast range of space tailored to different uses. You trade a small amount of personal space to access a much larger collective.
Imagine a 200-unit development where each home contributes some of its private space for collective use. Now everyone benefits from lounges and kitchens, maybe a gym, games room, laundry room, cinema or co-working space. Most importantly, these different options are incorporated into the design. No more yoga mat squeezed in the corner of the living room. No more fighting over who gets to work at the kitchen table. All of this is offered at an all-in cost: facilities, bills, wifi, housekeeping, building management and maintenance.
“As we look to reimagine our city centres… co-living could play a decisive role in creating those urban communities we’re currently crying out for.”
It’s not just the range of options and amount of space that appeals to many co-living tenants, but the immediate access to a community and group of friends. This could be smaller groups in shared spaces such as kitchens, but with the option to meet with 20, 50 or even 200 people in the larger areas. This is a vibrant lifestyle – something many will be desperate for post-pandemic.
This is not to say the co-living model will be right for everyone – but it is a flexible option and may suit many people who’ve never considered anything beyond the traditional flatshare. Co-living deserves more attention, and more fanfare. As we look to reimagine our city centres and rethink large former commercial spaces, co-living could play a decisive role in creating those urban communities we’re currently crying out for. It is worth developers, investors and prospective tenants taking another look at this modern, flexible and sociable way to live.
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