From “Space” To “Place”
1 | Understand
1 | Understand
Both the physical and virtual infrastructure supporting collaboration should be considered as space. Here we focus mainly on the physical space, as the asset supporting people participation, interaction, engagement and value creation.
Here are only some of the main characteristics you can evaluate for its selection:
Building: Independent / Ground Floor / Upper Floor
Size: Small-sized space (70 – 200 m2) / Medium-sized space (150 – 400 m2) / Large space (>1000 m2)
Space arrangement: Open / Closed spaces / external spaces / hybrid public spaces
Dimension of internal spaces: Small- / Medium- /Big- sized spaces
Ceiling: Low / Medium / High ceiling
Illumination: Natural / Artificial light
Structure: Electrical / Heating / Water system
Where your collaborative space will be located is not without consequences. Depending on the audience you want to reach, the impact you want to create, as well as the relation with other existing organisations, choosing the right location is even more important than choosing the space itself.
Here are only some of the space location characteristics you can consider for its selection:
Property: Public / University / Private / Mixed
Functional zoning: Commercial / Residential / Industrial / Administrative / Green area
Position: Rural / City Based / City areas (downtown, peripheric, industrial, etc.)
Proximity to: Companies / University / Cultural areas / Services
Accessibility: Private / Public means of transport / Physical barriers
Signs: External signs / Relevant buildings in the area (hospital, train station, library, university, theatre, etc.)
Other existing spaces and offers in the area:
Is your offer already provided by other actors in the area? Are there other collaborative spaces already offering what you would like to propose? How can you integrate the thematic and content offer in the area? Are there other initiatives or spaces you can collaborate with in the area?
How a space is designed and used is strictly related to the offer you want to build around needs and expectations of your community.
Space uses can be multiple: collaborative spaces usually include open spaces, closed offices, meeting rooms, conference rooms, small rooms for teleconference and phone calls, informal meeting spaces, relax spaces, silent zones, spaces for outdoor activities (g.e. work out space, community garden), library and shared workshop rooms, maker spaces, large spaces to host events, lunch areas, bar, self-managed coffee corner, lockers space, toilets, kitchen, etc.
In this article you can find a wide variety of workspaces for inspiration.
To maximize utility of your space, try to think how it can be used for multiple purposes, and easily re-adapted to evolving and ever-changing uses. Having some undefined grey areas can be a cost and in some cases a limiting factor, but also an opportunity to leave space for potential evolutions of your offer and of the community living in the place.
In some cases, some spaces can be unallocated on purpose, to leave a place to externals and to the wider community of non members of the collaborative space: for example, some collaborative spaces have “yes rooms” that can be used by externals (for free or for rental) to do whatever they want, as long as they do not disturb others, and leave the space in the same conditions they found it. This can be a great way to open your space to the broader community, and stimulate interactions of your inner community with the unknown and rich variety of people usually living and acting outside your space.
The options on how to use the space are potentially infinite. However, Proximity, Privacy and Permission are three transversal dimensions you can always consider when deciding the distribution of functions within the space: proximity can enable interactions, but it should be balanced by the need of privacy that members of your community might feel. Moreover, you should consider the limitations defined in your space for its members (g.e. are dogs allowed? can you park the bike inside? if the answer is yes, how does this change the space distribution and design?), as well as – where applicable – the level of permission that companies inhabiting the space give to their employees.
Project code: 2018-1-BE01-KA202-038599