The world’s largest co-living space opens its doors next week in London’s Old Oak, as the sharing economy begins to infiltrate the capital’s rental market.
Designed by PLP Architecture, the 11-storey tower has 550 en-suite bedrooms along with shared kitchens and a communal gym, spa, cinema, library and games room. Interiors have been devised by the in-house team of The Collective, the scheme’s developer.
Elsewhere at the Old Oak space, there will be an on-site restaurant, convenience store and co-working space for more than 400 people – although these are yet to be complete. A mobile app is also in development and will allow tenants to keep in touch and, among other things, book a dining room or the cinema for private parties.
‘It’s responding to what the modern generation expect,’ says Reza Merchant, CEO of The Collective. ‘But the property industry has been slow to react to those expectations.’
Companies such as WeLive – an offshoot of co-working giant WeWork – and Common have launched co-living spaces in the US. The Collective also has similar schemes up and running in repurposed buildings across London, including in Acton, Camden and King’s Cross. Its Old Oak building, though, is the first purpose-built co-living space.
‘What we’ve done is rip up the rulebook, and say, “If you’ve got a blank piece of land, and economy of scale, what would be the perfect co-living product?”’ says James Scott, The Collective’s COO.
‘We’ve been pushing very hard to actually design for living – designing for people rather than concept. That makes it a useable space.’
In that sense, the Old Oak building is a product of its time – seen as much in the little details as the overall design concept. There are no awkward aerial holes in rooms because its future tenants – likely to be young professionals – tend to stream their favourite shows. With the decline in desktop computers, there’s no need for huge bedroom desks either.
‘We gave a lot of thought to the way people are living and behaving now, and designing in response to that,’ adds Scott. ‘We can be much more streamline in the design.’
Some tenants – or ‘members’, as The Collective calls them – are moving in next week but the first full cohort will arrive in September. Rooms, depending on size, cost between £225 and £270 a week – a price that includes utilities, council tax, cleaning, internet and access to all building amenities.
‘There are boroughs in London who have been indoctrinated to think there are only two models to housing – there’s private housing, which is unaffordable and inaccessible, and social housing, which is so important but it’s targeting a specific demographic,’ adds Scott.
‘The average person living in London with a job can’t go live in social housing, but they can’t afford private housing – so where do they go?’
Maybe Old Oak…