This summer, a new skyscraper appeared in the Canary Wharf landscape. This time, it is not an office space, but the embodiment of a new era shaped by the fast pace of urbanisation: The Collective co-living space.
The Collective Canary Wharf is composed of 705 bedrooms and offers high-end facilities, such as swimming pool, spa, cinema, and several other shared spaces to work and socialise in. This type of residential space is often compared to a student-style living with hotel-amenities for professionals and has grown in popularity in recent years starting in the US and now rising in the UK.
Despite all the premium services that this kind of co-living spaces offer, they fail at making people stay and truly feel at home. Here are four challenges co-living will need to address to become a long-term way of living and not just a trend.
The motivating force that appeals so many people into renting a co-living space is to make new connections and create together a sense of community. However, many co-living companies struggle to achieve that aim.
The survey carried out by One Shared House 2030 – focusing on the future of co-living – shed light on what people genuinely want from a co-living space. The report confirms that people want to socialise more but they do not wish to live with more than 10 people. How do current big co-living companies expect to create cohesion among people if they create hotel-like buildings where people just feel more isolated?
A great example that strives to create a genuine community is YorSpace. They intend to create a more social type of co-living at the Lowfield Green in York by implementing 19 homes. To address the house-crisis in York, the houses will be more affordable compared to the average market price. Besides, residents will have their private dwelling and will share a large kitchen, dining space, kids’ playrooms and workspaces.
In order for the co-living market to expand and become a long-term living option, it will have to offer more affordable rents. The current big co-living companies usually offer a premium space which comes with a premium price, often synonym of above-average rent.
Co-living has to design spaces that may not offer all the trendy facilities like swimming pool and cinema, in order to provide more affordable rent for people with low income.
Today’s co-living spaces come fully furnished from the bedroom to the shared spaces. However, a report carried out by Cohabitas House Sharing, reveals that people prefer to furnish their own space themselves and to have only the common areas to come equipped.
The next co-living spaces will need to make room for customization, allowing tenants to furnish their own private spaces for them to feel more like home. They may offer different options as leaving the private room empty for tenants to furnish, decorating the room according to the tenant’s taste, or even creating different interior design styles for each private room.
Most co-living spaces, nowadays, are designed to cover the needs of professionals in their 30s and who are mostly single or millennial students in their 20’s according to the Knight Frank survey on Co-living.
In order to fulfil the different needs of the population, co-living companies will need to be more flexible by creating other types of spaces that will meet the demand for couples, families, retired people etc.
An interesting co-living project that is leading the way in terms of flexibility is the Lang Eng Cohousing Community, in Denmark. There is a total of 54 housing units with over 100 adults and children, and all have access to the shared garden space and terraces along the facades which offer a convenient platform for bringing life from the homes into the shared space.
By 2030 the UN projects that there will be 1.2 billion more people on the planet, with 60-70% of them living in urban areas. It is clear that we need to reinvent our way of living and building – just in the UK, the built environment contributes to 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint.
Co-living could be part of the answer but still needs to evolve into a more complex model addressing in this way, the complex challenges urbanisation brings along.