Finding a suitable workspace as a creative is about more than an easy commute and a reliable coffee machine. Being able to work productively and host clients in an inspiring environment, at an affordable price, is key to succeeding in a challenging industry. Traditional co-working spaces – built as a one-size-fits-all for independent workers – typically aren’t built with these considerations in mind.
Bureau is a new co-working space and members’ club that’s purpose-built for desk-based creatives – all in the heart of Greenwich Peninsula’s new Design District and launching in September. The space was designed to inspire – from light-filled atriums for deep work to cozy lounges for fostering deep connections – while the membership is set up to address the unique challenges of building a creative business, at a price point to target the creatives that have been pushed out of central London.
‘We realized we could completely rewrite the rule book on how we wanted to operate a co-working space.’
Helen Arvanitakis, director of Design District.
A key feature of Bureau is that it was built by creatives, for creatives, with flexible work and the option to scale in mind. Designed by HNNA, Architecture 00 and Roz Barr Architects, Bureau is set across two of the 16 striking architect-designed buildings that form the Design District. Sloped wood-slatted ceilings on the top-floor open workspace give way to al fresco courtyards, while floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample light and views of the bustling district below. Dedicated office spaces on lower floors are flexible, with the ability to expand in size as teams grow, and are dotted with acoustically adapted breakout rooms for meetings and phone calls. A ground floor lounge space, outfitted in red, has soft couches and armchairs to facilitate deeper connections. The restaurant, designed with long tables and curved chairs, can be rented for events and will host tech-free lunches to encourage conversation.
Bureau is more than just a pretty space, though, as the challenges of building a creative business have only been compounded in recent years. Bureau’s membership includes access to a digital community platform where members can communicate and share skills, as well as a rota of events on topics such as tax law, human resources and contract negotiation. Members will have access to booking resources in the wider Design District, from recording studios to 3D printing and CAD services. Pricing is also competitive – starting at £80 per month – which is crucial as the cost of co-working in London has risen steadily in recent years.
‘As businesses adapt to new ways of working, it's a challenge finding space that not only fits your needs, but is a creative space you want to work in,’ says Deborah Maclaren, an early member and managing director at book recommendation site LoveReading. ‘Many co-working spaces I’ve experienced either embody the antithesis of creativity and aren't inspiring places to work, or they’re wildly out of budget. Bureau is a creative space where you’ll find like-minded individuals who are looking to work collaboratively – that's a real plus for us.’
Given the past year of uncertainty, there are still questions around the need for in-person work. Is the value of potential collaboration worth the extra cost and commute?
Helen points out that there is always value in the small ‘nudges’ that can’t be replicated at home – the serendipitous questions and conversations that can push a creative process in an entirely new direction.
‘Without that, you're only as good as the ideas that you're able to create inside your own four walls,’ she says. ‘I think the majority of people in creative industries get great value from conversations, interaction and dialog with all sorts of different people.’