I took part in an open evening at The Hub on Thursday. I ran a couple of sessions using improv to explore how people can connect to generate new ideas. It was a joy to be involved; the space is inspiring and so are the people involved.
The Hub is as its website puts it
3174 square feet of derelict warehouse transformed into an incubator for progressive ideas. A place for getting things done. All the tools and trimmings needed to cultivate an idea launch a project, host an event and operate a business. Our intent. To generate possibilities. Our approach. To connect people who make things happen.
I’m going to be using it as a workplace some of the time, as well as hosting some events there.
It’s intended to be much more than serviced offices for small busineses. But if you consider it only in those terms, it is – I think – innovative.
Most serviced offices in London depress me. They give tenants their own little rabbit hutches and use of shared facilities, usually with a lot of “add on” costs, rather reminiscent of hotels where you can hardly move without being sold something ordinary at a fancy price.
The thing is, a lot of entrepreneurs may think they want their own space but I get the sense that most business centres are lonely places.
The Hub is open plan, based on hotdesking. Result: each enterprise uses less space saving money for everyone AND a more friendly, collaborative atmosphere is created. You might think it’s too noisy; in fact it’s feels quiet and purposeful. It reminds me of the spirit that Open Space creates. Folks can collaborate brilliantly within simple structures where the intention is good. When there are fewer rigid boundaries, folks will usually create rules of thumb for sharing space that are way more creative and satisfying.
There are some cool design features too, so that the place is eco-friendly. AND the result is some very simple design that makes it low cost (financial and environmental) and fun to work in.
One brilliant thing they’ve done is to set up a meeting space which is only partially partitioned off from the rest of the space. The result is really interesting; it has the integrity of a proper meeting area, and feels connected to the world, not cut off and isolated as so many meeting areas do. It sounds like a mad idea – you might think there would be no sense of privacy – but it really works in practice. The sense of privacy doesn’t come from the walls, it’s a felt experience connected to the spirit of the place. It’s hard to explain but if you visited you’d get it.
Again, there’s the paradox: we think we need rigid boundaries but porous ones can be way more enabling.