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Design of coworking spaces: the importance of designing spaces for inspiration and co-creation

Design is the key for work enviroment’s generation, specifically in the ‘coworking’ is indispensable. The ‘coworking’ must promote the interaction, the collaboration, the exchange of opinions and experiences. The frequent use of mobile panels, separating screens and other imaginative solutions to divide the space giving the answer to this need. Close to the open concept, the design of ‘coworking’ spaces stands out for it´s creativity. The aim is to create comfortable environments, in which the professional feels comfortable, improving his efficiency and productivity.

The ‘coworking’ spaces answer to the new concept of collaborative work, understanding the relation among professionals of different areas and believing it contributes with an added value, which improves the productivity and individual efficiency. The ‘coworking’ is based on experiences and knowledge exchanges, with perspectives proceeding from very diverse professional categories. Then, why to impose architectural barriers that prevent communication if we can construct an effective working space from panels or office screens? Why not to plan inside the office spaces destined to social relations, giving importance to leisure, fun and mental disconnection ass well inside a work day?

‘Coworking’ concept was born at the end of the 20th century, with new working spaces as the C-Base of Berlin, been founded on 1995 or 42 West 24, in New York. Bernie DeKoven was pioneer in using this term in 1999 refering to the collaborative work realized across computers. In Europe, the first environment of shared work was the Schraubenfabrik of Vienna, which opened it´s doors in 2002 or the ‘Hub’ of London, the beginning of a network which nowadays possesses more than 40 ‘coworking’ spaces distributed by five continents.

Design of ‘coworking’ spaces

When speaking about the basic rules for ‘coworking’ spaces design the first thing we need to keep in mind is, precisely, that there are no rules. In these work environments originality and innovation stand out, over everything, as tools used to stimulate creativity and inspiration. One fact all these coworking spaces have in common is, undoubtedly, the fluency, reflecting the values of this new work philosophy. Walls disappear or are replaced by cristal separating screens or dividing elements that promote spatial fluency, from the physical point of view – communicated spaces and fluid light – and the social point of view, encouraging communication among its occupants.

Nevertheless, privacy is also important inside a ‘coworking’ space. Work enviroment design must be sufficiently flexible in order to offer individual working places for the professionals. They must be designed with the necessary intimate conditions which favor concentration during the work but without isolating them completely, close to meeting and working zones or punctual meetings, as resting and leisure areas. It is also important to plan a storage. Mobile partitions use, screens office or Japanese panels are common resources to obtain this flexible space division, adapting the place to different needs in every moment.

Keeping this fundamental premise in mind, we have several options to create a ‘coworking’ space. The starting point when designing is a great diaphanous space, in which we must create different zones or work environments communicated with each other. The common zones, as the cafeteria or the rest area, have the same importance than the ones destinated to productive work. According to experts, it is precisely in these zones where social and profesional relationships among the professionals are easier to take place.

Having to do with distribution, the most common design strategy is locating the working places in the central space, placing the other zones around it. It’s also possible distributing these individual workplaces around the perimeter, reserving the center for teamwork zones. We must keep in mind that professionals who frequent a ‘coworking’ space are employed at different projects and companies. This is why at these spaces must exist separating screens or other dividing elements that assure necessary privacy to support work meetings, creative meetings or informal conversations. In addition, the social zones must be placed near the working areas, to promote relation among the ‘coworking’ users.

Office screens for flexible spaces Architecture and current design offer several ways to create these different environments with the necessary conditions for ‘coworking’ space: sliding doors, mobile partitions, office screens, separating screens, panels, etc. Between them, stand out the dividing crystal elements, for offering a guessed right balance between privacy and acoustic isolation and visual communication. If we do not want to realize works, the separating screens are an excellent resource to divide a space into ‘coworking’ zones in an easy way and afordable to all budgets.

The office screens allow necessary flexibility in these spaces. An office screen will manage to create a reserved spaces in order to support open meetings or more private meetings, without any need to resort the traditional offices. These separating screens also are very adapted for the closing zone of rest or easing. The employment of office screens or dividing elements allow to transform the space easily, opening these zones reserved to the rest of the space when we are not using them.

As well as office screens, Japanese panels or separating screens are habitual, simultaneously practical and aesthetic. Even racks and storage elements are used to divide the space. The sliding doors and mobile partitions also are architectural solutions of great potential for these enviroments design.

As you see, ‘coworking’ is necessary a live space, in constant evolution, as EjePrime indicates. Also activities that it shelters and professionals relations who occupy it. Undoubtedly, an exciting challenge inside the office design, to answer to a different work philosophy, which claims the importance of job environments based on collaboration and communication.