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Shared co-working amenity spaces are in demand and developers are taking note

Courtyard 33, by Rndsqr, includes a plan for a co-working space in the mixed-use Marda Loop building.
Courtyard 33, by Rndsqr, includes a plan for a co-working space in the mixed-use Marda Loop building.

With the rise of the gig economy, freelancers and and contract workers are changing the shape of the workforce and redefining the look of the workplace. Developers are taking note.

“The one thing that we really do when we develop a new project is focus on what people are doing, how they are moving through their daily lives, while at the same time considering how society has changed,” says Al Devani, founder of Rndsqr, the developer behind several innovative inner-city multi-family residential projects in Calgary.

A recent Gallup survey found that almost 40 per cent of the workforce is part of the gig economy, with giggers slicing across demographics — boomers are at the top of the chart, followed closely by Gen Xers and millennials.

And Rndsqr is tuning in to the trend.

“We are looking at creating common co-working spaces instead of common amenity rooms like party rooms that don’t get used as frequently as you would think,” says Devani.

Rndsqr is the force behind Marda Loop’s Courtyard 33 (CY33), a multi-use 56-unit residential project designed by Winnipeg’s 5468796 Architecture. The innovative design — the interior portion of the light and airy six-storey building is carved out allowing for a programmable public plaza, a space that Devani calls a neighbourhood living room — gleaned inspiration from European design.

The 14,000 square feet of retail and commercial space on the project’s second floor will include a 10,000-square-foot co-working hub, where the self-employed and contract working types can head to connect with others and put in a solid day’s work.

It’s a joint venture with the Commons, one of Calgary’s best-known and longest running co-working spaces located in the Ramsay Design Centre — the prototype for CY33 — a test incubator pilot project — recently flung open its doors in Inglewood, just blocks from the Commons, with the hip and relatable name No Island.

“It’s a little bit edgy. The whole concept is about encouraging entrepreneurs to get off their own island. It’s about connecting people and ideas. Co-working is really a global movement. But it’s not just about wifi and hot coffee, it’s about programming, and I’m not talking about lunch and learns,” says Zach Lyster, who founded the Commons six years ago with his sister Erynn Lyster.

“It’s tough for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. People get tired of working at home alone,” say Lyster, who as a former real estate agent knows first-hand the challenges of working from home. “The lines just get so blurred,” he says.

No Island, like the Commons, will offer noon yoga classes, access to a personal trainer and a variety of all inclusive packages with no contracts and month-to-month leases, starting at under $300 per month.

“It’s about flexibility or should I say breathability. It’s not just about the solopreneur, it’s about teams, too. They need to be able to breathe in the market and grow and expand or contract according to work loads. Everyone thinks they need to have their own shingle outside but that’s not true,” says Lyster, noting that Calgary is a bit behind the global movement but that it is on the cusp of a workplace rebrand.

The No Island concept will open in CY33 in late 2020 with preferential rates for homeowners.

“It is really about connecting the entire community, about creating a network,” says Devani, whose brand of development is all about connecting small local businesses.

Other developers taking note of the trend include Dan Bowman, developer behind the Nest, a 15-storey, 82-unit condo development in Mission near the Elbow River. The premise behind the design — it’s a collaboration between Casola Koppe Architects and Aly Velji Designs — is about smart living and smart design.

“Today many Calgarians choose where they live by the opportunity to work and play nearby. Many have more than one job and would prefer to work at home as often as possible,” says Bowman.

To that end the main floor lobby was designed as a meeting place and networking area.

“It’s like a great coffee shop, but it is part of your home,” says Bowman.

The industrial design features cafe-style seating and sleek matte black fixtures.

“By having high speed internet accessible throughout, a resident can work from their condo or in the lobby where they can connect with others if desired.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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