Designing for Co-working in London

As a practice we know what works and what doesn’t when designing for coworking space. Originally, Common Ground Workshop was based inside The Common E2 a cafe on Old Bethnal Green Road in East London. Headlined as a ‘hybrid business’ our practice was inventive in the way we encouraged customers of the cafe and the community at large to engage and discuss the design work Common Ground Workshop was producing. We have always been pragmatic in breaking down the fourth wall between the client/community and ourselves, the architect.

As a workspace a cafe was ideal due to the very nature of our growing tendencies to work in less formal environments. More and more common is becoming the ‘work from home’ offer as businesses embrace technology and work becomes measured on results. In reality, and not surprisingly, most people still feel the need to connect, this brings them out of the home office and into the cafe or shared workspace often labelled as ‘coworking’ where there are both copious amounts of coffee and like-minded company. From this environment we learned about how people engage, the space required to work effectively and the meaning of both community and ‘Place-ID’.

Since our residency at the cafe we’ve moved between a number of co-working spaces each providing services as we needed them. We have recently relocated to the Tala lighting office and co-working space which, again, has educated us on the value of multidisciplinary co-working.

Our design for the Ikawa office interior embraced much of our learning from our own previous experience of coworking. Despite this office space being home to just one company the brief was to create a combination of open work environment workspace and cellular, private offices while incorporating a second adjacent space as a workshop and manufacturing area. This mixed use office set up is key to the success of many young businesses where small teams can interact directly, face-to-face rather than spreading their production and development into separate, independent work environments.

Our passion about shared work space stems from our experience of it. We know what works because as an architecture practice we’ve not only experienced it but we’ve developed it as a business. If you’re interested in discussing a coworking design or an idea you have been working on you can send us an email at