>> Coexisting – the shared future.
Shared use, shared experience.
Coexisting means sharing: work, food, living space, production assets, and mobility. In our multimedia story, five experts from Europe and the US reveal why this possession-free lifestyle is becoming ever more flexible, limitless, and exciting. Together. But also highly individual. That’s what the “co“ is all about: Coworking, co-living, co-dining, co-farming, and the sharing of tools, cars, bikes, or other everyday items we don’t necessarily need every day.
Text: Anna Miller | Graphics: Zentralnorden | Video: Modest Department
Not too long ago, we considered the above activities the basic foundation of our existence. Once they were taken care off, “real” life could begin. Fast forward to today, and we realize that some of our reality has already become “virtualized.” And that, slowly but surely, some of these supposed cornerstones might shackle more than they secure.
So, let’s move our focus to the moment; to figuring out the limits of individual scope and experiences; to being free, creative, and independent; to pursuing our own projects or sharing time and values. After all, if we don’t try these things now – when would ever be the right time?
In our search for like-minded souls, we find networks and sites for co-living and co-dining in almost any major metropolis.
And if our new approach means ditching a full-time job for project-based, online-focused work, we can rely on a global infrastructure of coworking desks. On the move, rental bikes and carsharing pave the way for new experiences. And if we ever feel like putting down roots, co-farming offers a thriving option.
A movement of urban cosmopolitans
An umbrella term for this caring, sharing movement – which attracts ever-growing numbers of acolytes, most of them from a cosmopolitan background – would be coexisting. Its tenets promise a new class of creatives and entrepreneurs that are at home in the world’s metropolises the chance of a new, rewarding lifestyle.
They ask themselves: Why drag ourselves to the office everyday if we can work from anywhere, online? Why stay at home and get bored when there are plenty of places out there where interesting people are celebrating together, right now? Why have vegetables flown around the world if we can plant some ourselves – knowing there’s always someone on hand to water them when we are away?
So, we join up with strangers – who are not so strange after all since they ultimately share our lifestyle. We simply hadn’t met or found them yet.
And while this might sound philosophical, it is quite pragmatic in nature: We want to be able to work everywhere, dine anywhere. Without spending 3+ hours getting lost in Bogotá in search of the next internet cafe.
We crave a life that is both simpler and more versatile, in business and leisure, without giving up our creature comforts, indulgences, or stable networks. Coexisting perfects this approach by updating and fine-tuning the notion of a good hotel for individualists: fast WiFi, clean rooms, flexible freedom, and inspiring neighbors.
It proffers oases of ideal living, anywhere around the world, from Miami to Bali. Easy, fuss-free, affordable, and guaranteed to enrich our lives with new experiences.
At home anywhere
Yet there’s also something else and far more fundamental going on below the surface of coexisting: It embraces a sense of home-away-from-home, of human warmth and support. It’s a new take on community tailored to today’s urban life.
Now, community is no longer tied to a place, but can be found anywhere in the world in ever-new, yet familiar guises. It allows us to meet people who love travelling just as much as they love their family at home. People who use our networked world to work hard while soaking up the vibes of the world’s most exciting cities and regions.
Coexisting aligns with a mindset where no less than the whole world is ever enough. A world that keeps spinning faster and faster – encouraging us to drop anchor at more than one beach.
Promising prospects for pioneers!
Homefarm – a co-farming project by Spark Architects
At their studios in London, Shanghai and Singapore, Spark Architects focus on designing socially sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings. Their forte: a blend of European functionalism and Far-Eastern, natural architectural styles. Now, their “Homefarm” concept combines cultivation and urban architecture with the idea of communal use and management.
Co-farming: Our urban farm
“Homefarm”, designed by architects at Spark, invites several generations of residents to pick up their gardening tools and dig right in. Spark director Stephen Pimbley tells us more about this intriguing concept – and its fertile origins.
In Singapore, a city state that thrives on novel architectural and residential solutions due to its limited geographic dimensions, encourages the greening of buildings – at least on the surface.
We came up with the “Homefarm” concept to create an opportunity for large-scale farming – growing produce for both self-subsistence and selling. It’s an urban farm designed for modular expansion.
The farm’s roofs, balconies, facades, and outdoor areas like the courtyard and gardens boast a huge variety of areas for aquaculture, vegetable growing, or small grain fields. Any proceeds from harvests flow back into the community, closing the circle.
Urban farming meets multi-generation home
“Homefarm” picks up on the growing global trend of urban farming: All around the world, young creatives and urban pirates promote city farming in global metropolises.
At the same time, we also offer a solution for older city dwellers since dealing with an ageing urban population will be one of our times’ most pressing challenges. I first came across this issue a few years ago and it continues to fascinate me.
Thus, the basic premise of the“Homefarm” living concept is this idea of cohabitation, of bringing individuals and multi-generational communities together. I wanted to design a space for old people that would make everyday life a joy by fostering a sense of community and keeping people healthy for longer.
Right now, retirement homes are rarely feel-good temples – they’re often situated on the outskirts of cities, with little connection to metropolitan society. “Homefarm” offers seniors a sense of self-worth and community.
Here, they can live and work together, which goes hand in hand with the relaxing and rewarding tasks of tending a garden. Growing old in green, blooming surroundings: Isn’t that a beautiful vision?
Singapore as a lab for urban ideas
This concept also brings together different elements of new living models. That’s the real future of construction: no more monocultures, no buildings that are just shopping malls or coffee shops – all spaces should be designed for multi-functional use.
In future, a house will be for eating, sleeping, social exchange, and enjoying art.
Singapore is the ideal proving ground for such a concept. Since space is at a premium in the tiny city state, land is also very expensive. People already import 90 percent of their food since there’s already almost no arable land left in the region.
Due to growing urbanization, this farm land will decrease even further – not just in Singapore, but on a global scale. So, areas will need to serve new functions.
This much is clear: One such function will be to provide a focus for people’s enthusiasm and to meet a wide spectrum of different needs.
Agrarian concepts that adapt to their surroundings
As architects, we are always interested in modern technologies. Our project is a test bubble of sorts, a futuristic idea. It’s a potential answer to the question of how we want to live. A new agrarian concept that adapts to its surroundings.
In the end, it’s about launching a discussion. “Homefarm” could serve as an example. We hope to realize initial projects by 2020. Malaysia and Australia have already registered their interest and we’re pouring all our energy into the designs.
Yet architecture is just one aspect of the whole. We also need to address doubts and questions: Are my tomatoes safe from theft? Is the distribution of labor fair? Who is allowed to harvest what? Recognizing and tackling such social challenges is one of the next, major steps in bringing “Homefarm” to fruition.
Mindspace – a coworking project from Israel
A run-of-the-mill coworking space? Not exactly. The founders of Mindspace, Dan Zakai and Yotam Alroy, don’t really like the term, anyway: They consider their concept more of a lifestyle. Founded in 2013 in Tel Aviv, where co-working spaces pop up left, right, and center, Mindspace is in a league of its own with premium design – and novel service standards. Beyond 24/7 access, it also offers its community bespoke support, a cafeteria, dry cleaning services, a bike rental, and restaurant discount. All you need is a laptop – a philosophy that not only attracts freelancers and start-up specialists, but also the creative teams of industry giants.
Niko Woischnik – the coworking expert
As a start-up consultant, Berlin Tech Open Air organizer Niko Woischnik not only gave the international creative and tech industry a new point of call, but also revealed an uncanny knack for novel, state-of-the-art team organization techniques. For the Berliner, co-living and coworking are the answer to decentralized and flexible lifestyles that mesh work and leisure while placing clear emphasis on speed, utilization modes, and throwing off the shackles of personal possessions.
Coworking: Rethinking productivity
The future of work is unthinkable without coworking. We explore why more and more people use flexible spaces and what prompts the market to keep growing.
Laptop always on hand, solid WiFi a must. Work in the 21st century is an anywhere, anytime experience. One shared with people we don’t even know. In a place we might not return to tomorrow. Coworking is the answer to a globalized, flexible society. A trend that has become indelibly linked with urban life.
A mere decade ago, however, this thriving movement was still in its infancy. In 2005, the first official coworking space opened its doors in San Francisco: the Hat Factory. Ten years down the line, the global coworking community had already expanded to 7,800 offices, according to the “Global Coworking Survey.” From 2014 to 2015 alone, the growth rate accelerated to an impressive 36 percent.
Coworking is considered the future of work. Yet it involves more than sharing office space: It’s all about sharing experiences, passions, and opportunities, according to Dan Zakai, co-founder and CEO of coworking company Mindspace.
“This particular way of working also changes the way we think. The notion of sharing time and space has become an actual lifestyle – it’s modern, sustainable, and hip.” When asked about the evolution of this trend, Rahul Prakash, partner at San Francisco’s HatchToday coworking company, adds that “in future, the term coworking will no longer describe something extraordinary, but simply have become the norm of how we work.”
“The notion of sharing time and space has become an actual lifestyle.”
Co-working becomes the norm
Driving this development is the increasing flexibilization of the entire labor market. “Both sides, employers and employees, are looking for suitable solutions for working better and more flexibly,” states Zakai.
One of the reasons for this shift is the steep rise of prices for large office rentals in Berlin or London. Even global corporations like Microsoft are increasingly favoring decentralized spaces and juxtaposing employees with other creatives to deliberately boost innovation.
“Companies are realizing that sharing meeting spaces and kitchens simply makes sense,” says Zakai. “In our own spaces, we notice just how successful networking across industries can be. Our members profit from new synergies and more creativity.”
Another plus for the model: It not only attracts a specific type of person. “Diversity is key to co-working’s success,” reveals Zakai. Different people from different industries benefit from each other.
A fast-growing market
In return, those who set up coworking spaces benefit from a growing market: Studies on the future of coworking predict that by 2020 around 26,000 such locations will have popped up around the world – offering space for 3.8 million members.
It’s a golden age for companies like WeWork, Cove, or Mindspace. US-based WeWork already made almost 800 million US$ last year while Mindspace from Israel recently expanded to Europe with two new spaces in Germany: an almost 6,000 m² space in Hamburg and a slightly smaller, 5,000 m² location in Berlin.
In 2016, the global coworking industry attracted investments to the tune of one billion US$. No surprise then that entrepreneurs are fine-tuning an ever-growing spectrum of potential spaces and services – with an international, not local focus.
To stand out from the competition, there’s an increasing focus on premium service and design. “We want to be more than an office. We want to offer our members boutique services and a distinct design,” reveals Zakai. A blend of living room, desk, and creative space. A set-up that makes us want more. And what could be a nicer description of our daily, money-making routine?
Co-living provider Roam wants to become the solution for digital nomads and their location-independent lifestyle. At spaces in Miami, London, Madrid, Bali, and – starting 2017 – Tokyo and San Francisco, the service offers private rooms in shared homes, often remodeled and redesigned city mansions, for weekly or monthly rental. The result: an authentic, locally networked, premium convenience lifestyle.
Welcome to Roam in London
See the surroundings of Roam Space London – in our 360 degree panorama. Photo: Modest Department
Co-living: An oasis for digital nomads
As project director of the meinestadt.de city and job portal, Katja Haack combines work and vacation – through co-living. Here, she reveals what makes this lifestyle so compelling.
Without co-living, my vacation would have been very different. My husband and I wanted to go away: to Miami, for ten days. While researching options, we came across Roam, a service that had just started up in the city. And we thought: Well, why not?
Soon after, we found ourselves in the lobby of Roam space Miami, surrounded by laptop-toting strangers. It felt pretty crazy – considering we had only just left our own office behind.
Basically, co-living is a playground with room for anything. And in Miami, it opened up a new spectrum for us with work, sleep, outings, and rooftop beer yoga – but our own, hotel-style rooms. It was great!
Although I didn’t really know the city, I felt at home straight away. I never would have experienced Miami in such an intense, yet laid-back way if I had stayed at a regular hotel with other tourists. Roam gave us instant access to fascinating people and new perspectives.
“Co-living is a playground with room for anything.”
First conference call, then pool – or vice versa
One of the reasons might be that co-living users truly feel at home in their rooms, even when they only stay for a few weeks or months. It’s a different sense of arriving. Everyone is connected and works globally – digital nomads discovering their oasis.
In such a co-working space, it feels like the whole wide world has come together. At the same time, we’re all very similar: We love our work, like new spaces, and seek out new experiences. We enjoy togetherness, but also like a certain standard of convenience.
Sure, it takes a bit of discipline when there’s only a few yards between the pool and your laptop. But that’s also the amazing thing about it: You don’t just wait for the hours to pass, but schedule life and work just the way you like it. A quick dip in the pool on a Thursday afternoon, followed by a conference call.
Co-living instead of sabbaticals
I work a lot – and I enjoy it. I look forward to my job every single day. I don’t feel like taking time out or asking for a sabbatical – I want to get ahead. But I also yearn for new places, experiences, and more freedom.
I want to travel and reinject this energy into my work. So, for me – and my work – Roam is the future. I mean, what’s the real difference to working from home?
In today’s world, it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant if I’m phoning in from London or Cologne.
Co-living is something in-between. Somehow familiar, but also truly global. Just like me, in a way. Part of me is tied to a place, with friends and family. I love my home, but need some fresh air every once in a while. Co-living means that I don’t have to set up a brand new life abroad. It allows me to make new experiences in new places, fast and intense – yet always safe and sound. Wherever I go.
With a million shared meals in 150 countries and counting, Meal Sharing is one of the largest service platforms for tourists and business travelers looking to share a meal with locals at their own home. The basic idea and process resemble a community marketplace for brunches, lunches, or dinners. Hosts can invite their guests into their private dwellings or unusual locations like sailing boats or rooftops. The effect: The visitor can feel like a local, if only for a few hours.
Experience a dinner with Meal Sharing – with our 360 degree panorama. Photo: Modest Department
Shared ride, twice the fun
From me to we: Carsharing changes the way we interact, keeping tomorrow’s urbanites mobile. Those looking for an easy ride can already choose from two Daimler solutions: car2go and the new smart “ready to share” service. Feeling spontaneous? Rent the nearest car2go. Prefer to share the fun? Then loan out your own smart to family, friends or colleagues – via the smart “ready to share“ app and service.
A welcome addition to the mobility landscape since 2008, car2go carsharing has become a fixture in many European metropolises. Every 1.3 seconds, users rent one of the 14,000 car2go vehicles available on urban roads. Most of these cars are nimble smart fortwo models. The Stuttgart, Amsterdam, and Madrid car2go fleets already consist entirely of the new smart electric drive. In 2016, a range of Mercedes-Benz compact and medium-sized models was also added.
Since carsharing at fixed drop-off stations tends to be less than user-friendly, car2go promotes so-called free-floating carsharing: Just use the app to find and reserve a nearby car, then drop it off anywhere within the designated zone once you’re done. Users love this combination of utmost flexibility and all the benefits of having your own car – including the cost for parking, gas, and insurance.
Expanding the sharing economy to private vehicles
But what about those who can’t – or won’t – give up their own car? They can take advantage of the brand new service smart “ready to share”: the world’s very first offering for private community carsharing. With this, you can make your own smart available to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances whenever you don’t need it.
Just like the brand’s previous innovation, smart “ready to drop“, smart “ready to share” makes use of a dedicated connectivity box installed behind the windshield. Users can request timeslots via the “ready to” app. The proprietor of the smart can manage these bookings with an owner’s app.
Bookings start and end within a 300-meter radius predefined by the owner, who thus retains all control.
Once the owner has confirmed a reservation, the app sends the prospective user the car’s precise location and a virtual key, ahead of the scheduled booking: The tried and tested car2go sharing tech takes care of the rest.
If you’d like to try out the new service yourself, smart “ready to share“ is now available in Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, and Bonn.
A carsharing vehicle can replace eight passenger cars
At the same time, and beyond personal considerations, this kind of sharing behavior will also shape our future urban mobility. If World Bank estimates are correct, by 2045 our cities will harbor 1.5 times the current inhabitants – translating to an impressive six billion urbanites. Many of them will no longer have a car of their own.
According to a recent study by management consultancy Frost & Sullivan, the global number of carsharing users is set to more than quadruple – from a current user base of 7.9 million to 36.7 million by 2025.
And our cities will thank us: According to the German Bundesverband Carsharing e.V., each carsharing vehicle easily replaces eight regular passenger cars.
Besides the actual ownership model, cars themselves are also about to change: In Stuttgart, Amsterdam, and Madrid, car2go already has a total of 1,300 smart fortwo electric drive in play, making it the world’s largest electric carsharing fleet.
The outcome? A welcome two-fold impact on resources. With fewer vehicles found in cities, we can expect less traffic jams and more available parking spaces, while an uptick in locally emission-free transport options also improves urban air quality.
“This new culture of sharing is sustainable, protects resources, supports the environment – and has long reached the car,” summarizes smart CEO Dr. Annette Winkler.
So, no doubt about it: Our future’s slogan will be “sharing is caring.”
Modelling the future
Two mobility solutions from Daimler: With the service smart “ready to share“, you can loan out your own smart to family, friends, and neighbors – simply via app. car2go, as market leader with fleets on three continents, remains a key driver of the sector’s continuing boom.